Documents obtained under the Official Information Act has revealed under the original design for the City Rail Link a plan was developed to reduce disruption which was never followed, MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says.
“The ‘Social impact and business disruption delivery work plan’ was designed to avoid, remedy or mitigate the adverse effects arising from disruption to businesses has clearly been a box ticking exercise with little tangible benefit.
“It would be good to know how much was spent on developing the plan to prevent disruption which has seen more than a year of delay.
“Albert Street businesses are struggling financially and emotionally, and the Mayor and Transport Minister continue to try and ignore the issue despite the fact as shareholder representatives they sit on the City Rail Link Limited (CRLL) board.
“The documents show CRLL spent $72,000 on ‘supporting businesses’ including a cheap eats campaign and social media training. The businesses of Albert Street have made it clear they haven’t seen the benefit of this expenditure.
“CRLL have also blanket blocked access to information requested on briefings around costs. While some may need to be redacted, refusing all of it is excessive. This is taxpayer money that is being spent, and there is rightly huge public interest in understanding the cost blowouts of the City Rail Link.
“In particular there is little detail on the $150 million of ‘non-direct’ costs. CRLL claim it may impacts its ability to secure favourable terms from partners. At the very least we could have some indication of what this actually covers at a high level.
“The businesses on Albert St have had very poor treatment which has seen a number of them in very difficult situations. CRLL has treated them poorly with bad communication. I have advocated for some form of financial assistance via rates relief or some other support.
“The Minister and Mayor have previously tried to avoid important issues of fiscal responsibility and need to front up with more information including explaining why the CRLL did not follow the original plan to reduce disruption.”
At midnight tonight submissions will close on the Education (School Donations) Amendment Bill with a lot of parents and schools not having their chance to be heard, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Government have rushed this legislation and not given schools and parents enough time to have their say. This Bill has the potential to have a large impact on parents and schools and there is no credible reason for such a short process.
“The Minister of Education’s answer during estimates hearings this week that this is a ‘short and very simple Bill’ is disappointing, and does not demonstrate an understanding of the level of potential impact to schools, and the hundreds of thousands of parents who are asked for donations.
“It instead appears the reason they don’t want a full Select Committee process is because this is another example of the Government failing to deliver on its promises.
“Due to the tight timeframes the Select Committee’s only attempt to address the Bill was by trying to communicate directly with all schools mid-way through this week.
“Labour promised all schools would be incentivised to end school donations. Their donations policy instead has been restricted to deciles 1-7 and will leave out 700 schools. There are a number of upset schools who are going to be tens of thousands of dollars disadvantaged.
“We have already heard a number of schools speak out publicly around the inequality of the policy with many disadvantaged families in schools with high decile ratings.
“This Bill will inevitably raise wider issues around Government policies related to what schools should or should not be charging or fundraising for. I encourage you to make a submission on this important Bill before they close.”
Note: To make a submission click here
It’s good news for teachers, parents and students that the Government has buckled under pressure and backed down by proposing significantly more cash, now close to $1.5 billion for teachers, with the unions indicating a potential settlement subject to teachers ratifying this, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National believes the offer is a significant improvement and we hope teachers can ratify this. We understand that while there are shifts on remuneration there will be some teachers who will be disappointed around the ‘accord’ which appears to not provide concrete funded initiatives to address workload issues. We will continue to advocate on these issues.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins is in maximum spin mode on how he’s found more money, claiming this is through savings via communities of learning and the fact that, somehow, the idea of a three year agreement is new.
“Pay parity is important for many teachers as are increases in management units and it is important we ensure they get the recognition for the work that they do. This has always been possible as part of the discussions and it will be interesting to see if release time is part of this deal.
“The Government has been weak and incompetent at every level in the way it has handled what have been long, drawn out, negotiations. These negotiations have gone on for more than a year for some teachers, with multiple days of strikes, including the mega strike the day before the Botched Budget. These delays have cost teachers and parents and have been hugely frustrating for everyone.
“The Prime Minister and Mr Hipkins have stubbornly said there is ‘no more money’. But the truth is they can miraculously find hundreds of millions of dollars when it suits them for trees and planes. Now, because of the pressure the Minister is under, he can find an extra $271 million for teachers too.
“Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters coming out and claiming there was an announcement yesterday, while negotiations were still undergoing, was irresponsible and unhelpful. He should not have done this and it was a mistake.
“Resolving workload issues in the future is crucially important. We know many teachers have made clear this is not just about pay. Reducing workload could be through the implementation of NCEA, or reducing teacher ratios and class sizes in primary schools, which National has committed to.
“The Government has a track record of failing to deliver. Yesterday it was revealed the Government hasn’t finalised the role and policy for the 600 Learning Support Facilitators which are important for helping children with complex needs and reducing workload for teachers.
“National knows teachers have felt let down due to the number of promises the Government has broken, we’ve highlighted the sheer number through our report card on Labour.
“While we are optimistic there will be ratification but we respect the important right of teachers to make the final decision on this offer. We do believe it is important to give them the space to consider these issues.”
It is difficult to have any confidence in government promises around collective bargaining when they are yet to deliver finalise the policy for learning support coordinators, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Eight months ago the Prime Minister and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin announced they were going to put 600 learning support coordinators in schools by early 2020.
“It’s clear from questioning the Minister yesterday and today that not only has Ms Martin not finalised the job description and details around the funding of the role, but there has been no decision made around what schools these learning support coordinators will go into.
“Some schools are arguing for priority to be given to certain socio-economic areas with increasing additional learning needs. The Government needs to be clear about what its plans are so these schools can plan for more teachers, or the status quo.
“Documents indicate the Government is weighing up a 1:500 ratio for learning support coordinators which would see more vulnerable young people missing out given the difficulties accessing support in rural areas and some lower deciles.
“Right now schools are trying to plan their resources for next year but this is difficult when the Government hasn’t been clear on what it is doing.
“Because collective bargaining still hasn’t been resolved, and there are still major teacher shortages, it’s not even clear the Government will be able to find enough teachers to fill the 600 roles.
“Not only does the Government need to announce details around what the learning support coordinators actually do and where they will go immediately, but it also has to provide enough lead-in time to enable schools to actually recruit for these roles.
“Ms Martin hasn’t given schools or teachers much confidence either, inappropriately commenting on Facebook implying some teachers are greedy and only interested in their pay packets.
“There is no way we are going to have 600 learning support coordinators by early next year without immediate clarity. The Government needs to get a move on and announce its policy, otherwise the Prime Minister will oversee yet another broken promise from her Government.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins has today refused to answer questions on collective bargaining, an issue impacting teachers, parents and students across the country, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Mr Hipkins has been in a gridlock over collective bargaining for 12 months with primary teachers and eight months for secondary, and today he refused to answer any questions around funding that may be appropriated for a settlement.
“Teachers striking has impacted not only teachers and their pay, but students who have missed out on hours of learning, and parents who have been forced to either find childcare or take days off work. We are at a key point in the negotiations and these are questions the Minister should answer.
“Despite this refusal, there were a number of key areas where the Minister has demonstrated complete incompetence, that the Government has broken promises and that it will not deliver the basics in education in key areas like school infrastructure.
“National expects an announcement tomorrow or in the coming days showing the Government has shifted on Mr Hipkins’ and the Prime Minister’s stubborn statements that there would be no more money for teachers. We’ve been asking for a resolution for some time.
“Cash payments for teachers and incentives to reduce workloads could be included as part of this impending announcement.
“National will be scrutinising the details around the shambolic timelines and process so far, whether the promises are recycled and whether the Government plans on binding future governments in aspects of the settlement. We hope this is settled quickly for teachers, parents and students.
“We also heard today the Minister and Ministry of Education confirm the Ministry has blown out by tens of millions of dollars in terms of additional spending on staff, consultants and reviews, prioritising officials at a time where the Minister and Prime Minister have claimed there is no more money to resolve collective bargaining.
“Mr Hipkins also cut the time he was due to appear in Select Committee and be questioned by the Opposition, and failed to provide answers to a number of questions that had been lodged prior to his appearance.
“This is a Government claiming to be the most open and transparent Government ever, but the Education Minister has shut down information in key areas.”
The Budget has highlighted that Labour has failed to deliver on more than 50 promises in education and only partially delivered on another 30, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National has released a website to ensure the Government is held to account on its many promises in education. The report card shows Labour has failed to deliver on the promise of social workers in schools and the coalition agreement commitment to deliver free guidance counsellors for all under 25s.
“Workload has been a major part of the reason for not resolving collective bargaining, and has an impact on teacher wellbeing. National is committed to reducing teacher ratios, allowing more one on one time with teachers and their students, and more release time.
“Labour promised big for children with additional learning needs, but the report shows in areas like uncapping funding for children with the most complex needs, they not only failed to deliver. National agrees there is a lot more to support needed for children, families and schools.
“Labour has received an F for promises such as devices for every child, funding for centres with 100 per cent qualified teachers and reduced teacher child ratios in early learning, free driver training, personalisd career plans and modernising all school buildings. The school infrastructure package was very much business as usual and will not get ahead of growth according to the Ministry’s own information.
“This is a Government handed a once in a generation chance to deliver, it had billions of additional funds the previous Government didn’t have due to the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.
“Labour created massive expectations and has now failed to deliver on its promises. National is hopeful that the Government can shift its bargaining parameters to settle collective bargaining and prevent further strikes. It is easy to see why people in our education system are feeling let down.”
Labour's report card can be found here: www.laboursreportcard.co.nz
Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson needs to give assurances there will be no net loss to sporting organisations as a result of the Government’s Racing Reform Bill, National’s Sport and Recreation spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National has serious concerns around the potential impact on sport funding of the Racing bill and the lack of certainty around funding as a result of this Bill. We support changes to ensure the viability of the racing industry, but believe this could have consequences for other sports funding.
“Last week the Government pushed through a truncated Select Committee process that will see the Bill return to Parliament by the 11th of June. Stakeholders, including National Sporting Organisations (NSO), only had from late last week to consider the Bill and put in submissions by close of play today.
“Since this policy was proposed in 2017, people have raised concerns about the risk of certainty of funding to NSOs. They have argued for much greater certainty of funding. The loss of control around the collection and distribution of funds to NSOs is potentially detrimental to our sporting codes. Many NSOs rely on a large share of income from betting on their sports.
“The Bill also allows a relevant body, like the TAB, to offer betting products on sports not represented by a qualifying domestic NSO, provided an agreement is in place with Sport New Zealand.
“There are serious issues to be considered around the fairness of proposed distribution models, like the cost to New Zealand sports who carry the production of events, but are not recognised against offshore products that enter the market at no cost.
“We need to consider the potential for an increased pool of funding being available to organisations, rather than a decrease via a redistribution of the current pool. National will also be looking for clarity on the potential future role of Sport New Zealand in the collection and distribution of the levy.
“In my view there is a real case to look at whether all proceeds generated by a sport should be allocated back to that sport. We are talking about significant core funding for organisations such as Netball New Zealand, NZ Rugby, NZ Cricket and NZ Football.
“National values these organisations and the contribution they make to New Zealand and is deeply concerned about the potential impact and certainty for Sport in our country if changes are not made to this Bill.”
This week Labour scaled back on another promise, this time on ending school donations, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“While school donations are currently voluntary in New Zealand, Labour promised all schools would be incentivised to end school donations. We know there are a lot of parents who thought this would mean no donations, but actually the $150 payment will see a number of schools still choosing to ask for donations.
“Because Labour has wasted money on poor spending priorities, they’ve broken their promise to all schools by cutting back the policy to only deciles 1-7. There are a number of upset schools who are tens of thousands of dollars out and I’m aware of a case where the Principal estimates they will miss out on about $100,000 of funding.
“The reality is there are many disadvantaged families in schools in decile 8, 9 and 10.
“National had proposed scrapping the decile system due to huge inequities and discrimination. We had also proposed putting in additional funding. Labour has stalled this proposal, and now you have some schools in higher deciles who are being hit twice, with inequity from the stalled policy and being excluded from the donation payments.
“It is also unclear whether integrated schools will be covered by this policy. That means 90,000 students in around 300 sate integrated schools currently do not know whether they will be eligible for any funding.
“The Minister has also added in a clause which enables him wide discretion to cut the payments for schools he thinks may not have complied.
“The National Party believes in reducing costs to parents, that is why we have supported the removal of NCEA fees. While we will support this Bill through its first reading, we have major concerns about the inequities being created and the way the legislated has been drafted. We are supporting it to ensure parents and schools’ voices are heard.”
This year’s botched Budget has failed to deliver on many of the promises the Government made to parents, teachers and students showing education is not the high priority the Government has previously promised, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The increase in schools’ operational funding is not enough to keep up with rising costs for schools including the Government’s increases to the minimum wage.
“Yesterday’s mega strike was the largest education industrial action undertaken in our history. Thousands of teachers took to the streets to protest pay, workload and issues around supporting children with additional learning needs. This budget is totally underwhelming and provides little to address the collective bargaining issues. More strikes have been confirmed in secondary.
“It is pretty incredible given the strikes that Labour has made such large cuts in the tens of millions to the Investing in Education Success initiative which will see fewer salary payments for some teachers. There are cuts to ICT graduate schools, international teacher exchanges and teacher-led innovation funding.
“The Government raised expectations and made big promises, but we estimate there are more than 60 that they haven’t delivered on. Labour has delivered less than 5 per cent of the investment they promised for their school leaver toolkit.
“While Labour has provided $150 per student as an incentive for schools to not ask for donations, it’s likely only a proportion of schools will take this up. There will be parents in higher deciles who will feel let down by their policy that discriminates on decile. This doesn’t deliver on their promise to end donations parents were lead to believe.
“There are no devices for every child, no funding to ensure 100 per cent qualified teachers at early learning centre, no three years fees-free, no modernising of school buildings and only a fraction of what is needed and promised for health support and learning facilitators, and they haven’t uncapped ORS funding for children with complex needs.
“The Government has once again tried to repackage business as usual school property spend. It’s delayed the Auckland Growth plan by 18 months, which could’ve seen us build more schools in high growth areas like Auckland. The $1.2 billion over 10 years will not address the needs for high growth areas. This is slick PR exercise on business as usual property funding.
“The Budget has funding for classrooms, but what good are classrooms if there are no teachers to work in them because they have left the profession?
“Their flagship fees-free scheme has been a flop and while funding has been provided for growth in early learning a number of their promises in this area have been watered down or not delivered. This Government was left with growing surpluses, but it created massive expectations and has now failed to deliver the basics in education.”
Education Minister Chris Hipkins, alongside other Ministers, have talked up the latest offer to teachers stating a significant number of teachers will receive a $10,000 pay rise, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“It’s my understanding that more than 80 per cent of secondary teachers will not get $10,000, they will also have to pay tax on any amount that they receive.
“It is also important to note that due to the gridlock, primary teachers did not receive an increase in pay at the end of 2017 and 2018. Secondary teachers have been locked in negotiations for eight months.
“The Minister has claimed this offer is larger than all of the significant offers under National. But the reality is we had the Global Financial Crisis and Christchurch Earthquakes to deal with. Once we got into a surplus we also offered $359 million which included additional payments for some teachers on top of our offers.
“The PPTA have confirmed alongside the strike tomorrow, there will be regional and year level strikes. Some parents and teachers are facing days of disruption over the next five weeks.
“The gridlock has gone on for far too long. National supports shifting the bargaining parameters around teacher’s pay and workload, and we’ve called on the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to intervene.
“We do not believe this will be resolved by the Government sticking its head in the sand. Parents, students and teachers are facing days and days of strikes ahead, presenting significant challenges for low income families who cannot afford childcare during the strikes, and working parents who cannot get leave in order to look after their children.”