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.”
Today I held a meeting with the Chief Executive of Fullers Group and the Chair of the local board for Waiheke Cath Handley, where we raised issues of poor service, including massive queues, delayed sailings, reduced sailings and some boats leaving half full, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says.
“Ms Handley and I have had a constructive meeting with Fullers where they acknowledged some issues relating to their services. In the short term they will improve staff resources for wharf management and look at prioritising people who are elderly or frail. But we also need to look at ferry statistics, user experiences and complaints to improve services in the future.
“There needs to be big changes in the way we manage our ferry system. Waiheke and Great Barrier are isolated islands and there can be significant social and economic impacts on people when things go wrong.
“There is a case for change to the status of exempt routes which cover Waiheke and Great Barrier Island. We either need to remove the exemption from the Public Transport Operating Model, which would impact Fullers commercially, or come up with an alternative to ensure greater guarantees around the quality of what are essential services to the islands.
“We need to ensure the redevelopment of the downtown ferry terminal is progressed in a timely manner and that there is fair access to ferry berths. One issue is the lack of competition in the ferry market, with previous companies dropping out of the market citing issues with accessing ferry berths as hindering their ability to deliver services and compete.
“It is important that phase two of the terminal redevelopment ensures Waiheke and Devonport are properly prioritised in terms of their volume of trips.
“Another issue is integrated ticketing. Auckland Council are progressing integrated ticketing for Auckland, however reports that Waiheke could be exempt from this is concerning. It will mean islanders and tourists will miss out on seamless services, but also discounts on public transport.
“We can no longer afford to have a relaxed approach. The tensions raised by commuters are real and will continue unless we can get real movement on these issues to guarantee greater oversight and continuity of services.
“Waiheke Island is home to around 9500 people and is a popular tourist destination. Aucklanders need to have confidence in a ferry system that is on track to expand from 6 million trips to 9 million trips by 2025.
“I want to acknowledge Cath Handley, Chair of the Waiheke Local Board, for her work in raising these issues.
“Waiheke is a world class destination but is receiving a substandard service. Ferries are an important part of Auckland’s future, but there needs to be change to ensure continuity and decent oversight of the service, fair access to improved infrastructure and improved integrated ticketing.”
With the news today area schools have planned to join next week’s mega-strike, there will be another 2300 teachers on the streets causing further disruption to parents and students, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance need to step in and be a circuit breaker to help resolve the strikes. The strike has grown larger and the industrial action is expected to involve 50,000 teachers.
“The PPTA have confirmed for secondary students potential dates over a five week period which include regional strikes and year level strikes. For some parents with secondary students they could be facing more than three days of industrial action.
“Teachers, students and parents need to see collective bargaining resolved. Children are suffering with thousands of hours of teaching lost.
“In Parliament this week Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the gridlock will remain because he refused to rule out changing the bargaining parameters.
“He also said yesterday teachers will be disappointed in the upcoming Budget, which does not bode well for resolving the collective bargaining. This isn’t fair on students, it isn’t fair on parents, and it isn’t fair on teachers who would prefer to be in the classroom.
“The Government’s wasteful spending on the fees-free flop and the education underspend makes a mockery of the Minister and Prime Minister’s statement that there is no more money. The gridlock needs to end, otherwise strike action and disruption looks set to continue for weeks to come.”
The Prime Minister and Finance Minister need to step in and help Education Minister Chris Hipkins by providing a circuit breaker to resolve the strikes, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“Mr Hipkins has overseen gridlock in collective bargaining for over 12 months with primary teachers and more than eight months with secondary teachers.
“The PPTA has authorised ‘other’ industrial action commencing May 29th which would see more disruption or strikes if this is not resolved. This would see some parents having multiple days disruption over 5 week periods.
“With the first primary strikes in 24 years, multiple failed offers and hundreds and thousands of hours of teaching and learning lost. Teachers, students and parents need this to be resolved.
“The Prime Minister and Finance Minister need to assist the Minister of Education by enabling greater flexibility in their bargaining parameters, so this can be resolved.
“The upcoming Budget will likely see funding go towards free counsellors for under 25s, adding some of their promised learning support coordinators and providing Ongoing Resourcing Scheme funding for children with complex needs.
“While this will be welcome it will not deliver on all of Labour’s promises, and is unlikely to resolve some of the core issues in collective bargaining around pay and teacher workload.
“National has committed to reducing teacher ratios which would help reduce workloads. Teachers are also concerned about having adequate classroom release time and resources to implement NCEA changes.
“National left Labour with growing surpluses. But the recent confirmation of the $2 billion fees-free flop and subsequent $200 million underspend has not been received well by some people in the sector.
“The Minister’s first priority should be using this money to ensure there are more teachers in classrooms, instead he’s put it into his ideological vocational education reforms, which are widely opposed and carry the potential for legal action.
“If the Government can’t resolve the dispute then on the eve of the Budget we will have the largest ever industrial action by New Zealand teachers, covering almost 50,000 members across the two unions, and strike action looks set to continue. Teachers, students and parents deserve to have this resolved.”
The National Party has announced general support for the direction of the changes to NCEA announced today by the Government, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“There is still a lot of detail to be worked out, like how many standards will exist in each subject and how big they will be; whether some standards will be essential and detail around assessments including how predictable external assessments will be. National will be following closely, but today’s announcement is a step forward.
“National has previously raised serious concerns about the risk of NCEA Level 1 being scrapped and the requirement of potentially a large chunk of NCEA as compulsory project based learning.
“Schools have made clear to me the importance of retaining NCEA Level 1 so we are pleased it will remain an option for schools. We are also pleased that previous proposals around compulsory project based learning have been withdrawn.
“We value the work of the Professional Advisory Group (PAG) and Ministerial Advisory Group. I want to acknowledge Roger Moses for the work he has done to help guide the review into a much better place. I also want to acknowledge Education Minister Chris Hipkins for the opportunity to be briefed and provide feedback to the review.
“The strengthening of numeracy and literacy will make a huge difference in the lives of young people, ensuring they have the skills they need to be successful in society. We know that nationally, expectations can and should be higher, and that schools and students will rise to the challenge.
“We have supported the view that there are too many standards, creating large workloads for teachers and students and jeopardising course coherence. We believe it is important to ensure that changes trade a little bit of NCEA’s vast flexibility for fewer, bigger standards that equip young people with the essential knowledge and concepts from each subject area.
“We also support the changes to scrap NCEA and scholarship fees. We understand the importance of reducing costs to students and parents in our education system where possible. The scrapping of fees will reduce barriers to NCEA and will see more young people have their qualifications recognised.
“National has previously made it clear that we want to work constructively with the Government on the review of NCEA, so we are pleased to provide support for the general direction of these changes. We hope we can provide students, parents and educators with further confidence in our qualifications system.”