An agenda item for next week’s Northland District Health Board meeting confirms that there has been another case of Meningitis W in Northland, Whangarei MP Shane Reti says.
“This brings the total to two this year after a seven month old child contracted the disease earlier in the year. There were seven cases of Meningitis W in Northland last year and an outbreak was declared on 8 November, resulting in one death.
“Temperatures are lowering in Northland and I have grave concerns that Meningitis will flare up again over winter.
“David Clark first said the limited vaccinations were because of a global shortage, then he said he only found out about the outbreak in May. It was later revealed he knew in November last year and that 30,000 extra vaccines were available, but these were left on the shelf to save money.
“The Minister has failed the Northland community and MP for Northland Matt King and myself are advocating for him to do the right thing and ensure parents are provided with options to protect their children.
“We call on the Ministry to release the thousands of unused Meningitis vaccines that are slowly expiring and make them immediately available free of charge to all Northland children.
“We need to give Northland parents the assurance that every step has been taken to protect their children from Meningitis.”
The leaked Cabinet document on polytechnic reforms suggests polytechnics who have campuses or branches outside of the region may cease to exist, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“One of the statements in the document seems to suggest that polytechs will no longer compete for out of region learners. This would apply to most polytechnics who also have a campus in the major centres.
“When this is combined with the Government’s regular scoffing of Queen Street education providers it raises real concerns that the out of region provision will be disestablished.
“Many polytechnics have an out of region campus that is critical for maintaining funding and for recruiting international students before sending them onwards to regional campuses.
“The benefit to out of region campuses is well in advance of tens of millions of dollars and they often teach courses that other local polytechnics are unable to provide.
“Removing out of region campuses would be one of the hidden but more damaging aspects of the reforms and Education Minister Chris Hipkins needs to come clean on whether this is on the table or not.
“National will fight for regional education and we will fight these ideological reforms.”
The leaked Cabinet paper on polytechnic reforms shows opportunities for young learners will be reduced, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The paper states there is ‘a real prospect that before and during the transition period, participation in vocational education could decrease, especially in shorter and lower-level work based programs’.
“Lower-level work based programs are generally for new and younger learners. These students will be unfairly disadvantaged by these reforms.
“We need to be supporting and encouraging young learners not putting hurdles in the road for the sake of an ideological experiment
“Polytechnics will also suffer financially under the reforms with the document showing training volumes could fall and that this ‘could affect the viability of some providers’ polytechnics.
“This is a real kick in the teeth for polytechnics who are already struggling with falling international students, uncertainty, job losses and now a reform process that is predicting less learners and polytechnics going further into the red.
“The sector needs a commitment from Education Minister Chris Hipkins that he will financially support institutions that go into the red and end up doing worse under these reforms than they were previously.
“His silence on this issue is concerning, it looks as though this is another ‘spray and walk away’ policy typical of the Government, where once the damage is done the Minister will walk away and leave the sector to pick up the pieces.”
The Government’s proposed tertiary reforms have gone much further than first thought, and could damage New Zealand’s international students, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The international student market, worth $500 million, is at risk under the polytechnic reforms.
“A perfect storm is brewing around our international polytechnic market, including domestic uncertainty, branding uncertainty and delayed visa processing in Mumbai.
“International students are vital to polytechnics and the New Zealand economy. But in the Cabinet document outlining the reforms, which was leaked to National, barely three sentences were given to international students.
“The sector is very concerned that key parts of the international student journey, including that local recruitment may be taken by the new mega polytechnic head office.
“Even Education Minister Chris Hipkins was concerned when his officials urgently asked how the reforms were being received in the Chinese market.
“The sector and the market urgently needs clarity and stability, way beyond three sentences. The Minister needs to bite the bullet and lay out detailed plans.”
The leaked Cabinet paper on apprentice and polytechnic reforms has confirmed industry’s worst fears with apprentices now being organised by polytechnics, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“Nearly every industry training organisation (ITO) said they could collaborate with other parts of Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ ideological reforms, but organising apprentices must stay with industry.
“Primary ITO has 25,000 learners, largely across the rural sector, and is just one example of an organisation that could get alongside some parts of reforms, but they absolutely have to retain the organising function to do so.
“Industry has the relationships with employers and has the experience that polytechs do not - for example, in areas like remote pastoral care in rural areas. Industry training organisations have also formed in sectors where polytechnics couldn’t or didn’t want to train in, like the marine sector.
“Electricians and other tradies are telling us they will take on less apprentices if this part of the reforms go forward. Instead of creating more apprentices, these reforms will destroy them. The leaked document recognises this as one of the risks.
“Fewer apprentices impacts all New Zealanders. We won’t have the builders, the plumbers, the electricians or the engineers who we all rely on at some point.
“This country needs apprentices, and industry training organisations are in the best position to ensure they are supported and getting the best education they can.
“National believes industry is best at organising industry. National will return apprentices to industry.”
A recently leaked Cabinet paper outlines the damage the Government’s polytechnic reforms will do to regional decision making, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The mega polytechnic will have a council with 80 per cent of the members appointed by the Minister, all current polytechnic councils, including local members will be sacked on day one of the reforms.
“The document also states that head office will have a ‘stronger degree of control over regional operations’.
“But it’s the regions and local people who are best placed to decide what polytechnic courses to teach, where, and how to teach them. They know the needs of their community and local businesses, and are delivering for them.
“These ideological reforms will pass decision making back to Wellington and the regions will be left with token advisory groups. This is disastrous for regional education, the Government needs to stop pushing ahead with these reforms.
“National will return local polytechnic decision making back to the regions and back to local people. We will fight these reforms and fight for regional New Zealand.”
The leaked Cabinet paper on reforming the polytechnic sector shows 80 per cent of public submissions are against the idea of one mega polytechnic, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The reforms will see regional polytechnics renamed as subsidiaries of a newly formed statutory entity called New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST). However most public submissions are against the idea.
“Despite this, it looks as though Education Minister Chris Hipkins will forge ahead with the proposal anyway.
“Even more would oppose the change if they had known the cash and community assets grab this new mega polytechnic will take from individual polytechnics like SIT and Otago Polytech.
“The Cabinet document shows that NZIST will have all but two of the 8-12 board members appointed by the Education Minister. It also details that cash reserves that have been hard earned by individual polytechnics will be consolidated into a regional fund held by NZIST head office.
“Not only will the cash be taken by head office, but head office will decide how it is spent by ‘prioritising those regional operations that should be able to access cash’.
“Taking community assets is a slap in the face for fundraising communities, philanthropists and volunteers who have worked very hard over the years to support their local polytechnic.
“National will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to the communities. We will fight for regional New Zealand.”
A leaked Cabinet paper detailing the reforms of the apprentice and polytechnic sector shows a staggering 72 new entities will be created, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson, Dr Shane Reti says.
“The Auditor-General recently said this was the biggest reform of public sector entities in the past 30 years with no evidence of financial sustainability and now we can see why. It is bureaucracy gone mad.
“Many of the new entities, such as the up to seven Workforce Development Councils, are complex structures called not-for-profit statutory entities with annual audits and reporting. The New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology has even more compliance including statements of intent and statements of performance.
“New Zealanders are not prepared to pay for 72 new entities just to satisfy Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ grab for education command and control. Mr Hipkins should be addressing the problems where they are and leaving successful institutions alone.
“The Government says it’s committed to the regions, but it’s destroying local polytech that are integral to their local communities. National will fight these reforms, we will fight for regional New Zealand and we will fight against idealistic educational reforms.”
The Health Select Committee this week confirmed key aspects of the Meningitis debacle in Northland, highlighting the Government’s negligence, MP for Whangarei Dr Shane Reti says.
“The situation has now boiled down to three points. First, it was revealed Health Minister David Clark and the Director General of Health knew there were extra vaccines available before the campaign was signed off.
“This is despite the Health Minister and the Prime Minister claiming they only found out about the extra vaccines last month. After questioning, the Minister came clean to media and confirmed he knew of the extra available vaccines back in November.
“Second, neither Mr Clark nor the Director General of Health told Ministry officials who formed the vaccination campaign that extra vaccines were available. The Director of Public Health confirmed they rolled out the campaign not knowing there were extra vaccines available.
“Third, the experts who made the initial campaign recommendations would have vaccinated all children if there had been extra vaccines. A public health manager confirmed in OIA documents that the expert group originally recommended vaccinating all children under 20, but because of the limited vaccine availability they changed to a targeted campaign.
“All Northland children could have been vaccinated if the expert group had been told of the extra vaccines. Northland children have been betrayed, Ministry management have been betrayed and the Prime Minister has been betrayed
“The thousands of vaccines not taken up during the campaign, and an extra 5000 Pfizer vaccines also purchased, now sit in storage slowly expiring. Northland has already had one new case of MenW this year, and the coldest part of winter and the highest Meningitis risk is still to arrive.
“The children of Northland should be vaccinated before the vaccines expire. The Government should extend the vaccination campaign and vaccinate the 20,000 children who have missed out.”
Labour’s tertiary education reforms will be even wider than first thought and will strip power and assets from regional polytechnics, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
“The reforms will mean regional polytechnics will be renamed as subsidiaries of a newly formed statutory entity called New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST). After two years they will be amalgamated.
“National has obtained a Cabinet paper which outlines this information, the Government will take this paper to Cabinet on Monday.
“The polytechs will be controlled by a head office. They will have their cash and community legacy assets ring fenced at head office. All other assets including buildings and land will be taken away and consolidated.
“For high performing polytechs like the Southern Institute of Technology this will be devastating. Education Minister Chris Hipkins is pushing ahead with ideology over what is best for students and regional New Zealand. The paper shows enrolments will likely fall over the two year transition period and perhaps beyond that.
“More than a thousand jobs all over New Zealand will be lost.
“Subsidiaries will exist for two years before consolidation. Current boards will be sacked on day one, including local members and will be replaced by a subsidiary board, and regional leadership groups will be advisory only.
“There will no longer be out of region provision, like the Otago Polytechnic campus in Auckland. This has been a critical way of recruiting learners to the regions.
“The Cabinet paper also details that the industry body which looks after apprentices (ITOs) will be dissolved over a two year period. At the moment the industry organises placements for apprentices because they understand the needs of industry and who will be the best fit for them. That will now be taken from them and given to polytechs who won’t have the resources and skills to manage that.
“National has released this information because we believe these reforms will be disastrous for regional education and apprenticeships. We are bringing this information forward to try to stop the Government from going ahead with this.
“National will return polytechnic assets taken by Labour and give them back to communities. We will return polytechnic decision making back to communities and the regions. We will return apprentices to industry. Mr Hipkins should be addressing the problems where they are and leaving successful institutions alone.
“National will fight these reforms, we will fight for regional New Zealand and we will fight against idealistic educational reforms.”
The following is a paragraph from the Cabinet paper.
- This paper seeks to reform New Zealand’s Vocational Education system, following public consultation.
- This paper proposes to move from a system where vocational education is primarily split between eleven industry training organisations (ITOs) delivering work-based training and sixteen institutes of technology (ITPs) delivering provider-based training, to an integrated model where around 4-7 workforce development councils (WDCs) have oversight of all vocational education, which is primarily delivered by a single institution spread across a range of regional campuses. Provisionally titled the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, this institution would deliver both work-based and provider-based training. Wānanga and PTEs would continue to be important contributors to the system.
- A companion paper sets out fiscal implications, and seeks agreement to initial appropriations to support the reforms.
- A public-facing ‘change document’, a summary of submissions, a Regulatory Impact Assessment, and a Programme Business Case are all attached to this paper.