School donations another delayed promise

A Labour promise to pay schools extra so parent donations aren’t required has had an evolving target, from “in our first budget” to “three Budgets on which to deliver on them”.

Below the Beltway:

Education Minister Chris Hipkins – After promising repeatedly to offer parents relief from school donations in the Budget, Hipkins insists its omission is not a broken promise but a delayed one.

Labour policy: Schooling

  • Ensure that schooling is genuinely free by offering an extra $150 per student to state and state integrated schools that don’t ask parents for donations

Labour: Education Manifesto

  • Labour will provide all State and State Integrated schools that opt-in an additional $150 per student per year in exchange for their agreement not to ask for parental donations

July 2017: Labour taking action on school ‘donations’

Labour will end so-called voluntary school donations for the majority of parents across the country under its $4 billion plan to revitalise the education sector, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. James talks with Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins on this.

James: So the school will get this immediately, as soon as you become Government the schools will get this extra $150 per child?

Hipkins: Ah look it might have to be, obviously we’ve got to pass a budget first, so it probably won’t be the beginning of next year, it’s probably be the beginning of the following year but we’ll be doing it as quickly as we can.

James: How long does it take to sort that out, a year?

Hipkins: Well the government budget’s normally done in May, so you’ve got to appropriate the money first.

James: Haven’t you done the figures already?

Hipkins: Yep. The money, we’ve certainly done the figures but we’ve actually got to win the election and get into Government first, and then it takes a wee while to pass an additional budget. The budget for next year has been already been set by Mr English and Mr Joyce.

Almost as soon as they got into Government,26 October 2017: ‘We’ve got to fund schools fairly’ – Labour determined to take the axe to ‘voluntary’ school donations:

Incoming Education Minister Chris Hipkins said a new Labour initiative would be introduced in the 2018 budget that would see some schools given extra government funding instead of asking parents for a donation.

Hillary Barry: End of school donations, how are you going to ensure that those are gone?

Chris Hipkins: Well that’ll be in our first budget. We’ll be making sure that school funding is enough to deliver the curriculum so that schools don’t have to rely on the ability of parents to pay, because that’s creating real unfairness…

In November: Labour’s $150 per student per year promise ‘over and above current funding’, minister says

New Minister of Education Chris Hipkins…

The new Government would commit an extra $150 per pupil per year to any schools that agreed not to ask for donations, and that money would be “over and above their current funding”, he said.

Hipkins was confident many schools would prefer the new approach to asking parents to “dig ever deeper into their own pockets”.

“I know parents and schools will be keen for this change to be made as soon as possible and work is getting under way,” he said.

It had already softened to “as soon as possible”.

A month later Labour announced their first budget, a mini-budget that included major new spending like delivering on the free-fee tertiary policy. This was their first budget they chose not to address the school donation policy then.

In February this year Schools split on Government’s plan to overhaul donation system

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the policy would be considered for Budget 2018.  “No-one should be denied an opportunity to realise their potential through education because of financial barriers,” he said.

“As it is Budget sensitive I can’t comment further at this point.”

By then it was “would be considered”.

But it was absent from the budget announced this month (May).

In Parliament on Wednesday Nikki Kaye probed Hipkins:

7. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Minister of Education: Does he stand by all his promises in education; if so, does he stand by his statement in February 2018 regarding ending school donations, “As it is Budget sensitive I can’t comment further at this point”?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): Yes, and yes.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Why did he say, in January, to the Nelson Mail that a school donations proposal was working its way through Cabinet and “This restricts me from making any comment further at this stage.”, and when did that schools donations Cabinet paper go through?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Because it was working its way through the process. It was called the Budget process.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will he reimburse schools and parents who are contacting electorate offices saying they relied on his broken promise to end school donations in the first Budget, and how will they find funding from somewhere else?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The Government has been very clear that we have three Budgets in which to deliver the commitments we made in the Speech from the Throne. We have, thus far, delivered one of the three Budgets.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will he promise that funding will be provided in Budget 2019 to end school donations?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: All of the commitments in the Speech from the Throne are subject to further Budget consideration if they weren’t funded in this year’s Budget. There are two further Budgets that the Government will be delivering over this term of Government.

Hon Nikki Kaye: How does he justify breaking his explicit promise to parents to scrap the school donations in his first Budget when his Government is budgeting a surplus of $3.1 billion, the tax take is up by $1 billion, and the Government can afford to give millions to wealthy students, Swedish diplomats—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order!

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: To be clear, the Government was never going to be able to deliver all of the commitments we made in our first Budget, and we’ve always been very clear that we weren’t going to be able to deliver those things in our first Budget. That’s why we have a three-year term, and three Budgets on which to deliver on them.

So it’s been a moving target:

July 2017: “Probably be the beginning of the following year” (2019)

October 2017: “Well that’ll be in our first budget” (not clear whether mini-budget in 2017 or full budget in 2018)

November 2017: “…this change to be made as soon as possible…”

February 2018: “would be considered for Budget 2018”

May 2018: “three Budgets on which to deliver on them”

If Labour gets back into Government in 2020 Hipkins will have another three budgets to deliver on his promise, sort of.


Leave a comment


  1. Grimm

     /  26th May 2018

    What a fraud this lot turned out to be.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  26th May 2018

      Perhaps they never expected to be in a position where they’d have to use do-ey and not hui.

      • Traveller

         /  26th May 2018

        You’d have to wonder how $150 per primary child per year is not able to be met, but $50.00 ($2,500.00 p.a) a week allowance plus universal fees to tertiary are a done deal. Cart before 🐎 much!

  2. Corky

     /  26th May 2018

    National is starting to find its stride. Now they need to do two things – provoke and pressure Winston when he’s PM, and start tentative steps towards finding a new leader.

  3. Trevors_elbow

     /  26th May 2018

    The smell of pants in fire wafts around Chippie ……again….

    Billion committed to young adults going to tertiary education who would go anyway… but little kids in families with no money shafted

    Geez this Labour Government has its priorities completely effed up….

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  26th May 2018

      As the taxpayer pays thousands for primary children, less than $3 for extras a week seems a small amount, I can’t believe that many people can’t afford that. 3 cigarettes a week less and the money is there.

      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  26th May 2018

        if you are going to spend target the greatest need.

        We have kids in primary who have social problems, reading problems, turn up with out shoes and no brekkie (so said Labour before the election). And yet they choose to throw money at adults to go to Uni for free in the first year…

        COMPLETELY screwed priorities

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  26th May 2018

          Or exaggerated stories about the kids. I see many shoeless kids here, it’s a Kiwi tradition. The family down the road, whose father has a flooring business, often go barefoot even in winter – they tie their laces together and sling the shoes around their backpack straps. I suspect that they put them on just before they reach home 😀

  4. Ray

     /  26th May 2018

    Sometimes, just sometimes there is no fun shooting fish in a barrel.
    And where are those Labour supporters who could explain this all away?

    • Corky

       /  26th May 2018

      Robert? He’s Green. But what the hell. All their ideologies are toxic to economic and social issues.

    • Gerrit

       /  26th May 2018

      Labour’s interference commentators on blogs don’t work Saturday or Sundays. Labour can’t afford the union based minimum overtime wages.

  5. Ray

     /  26th May 2018

    I think you are on to it Gerrit, over time is a killer.

  6. Zedd

     /  26th May 2018

    geez.. Lab/NZF/Grns have been in power 8 months & have NOT achieved everything they set out to do.. we better get rid of them & bring back Key/English to solve it all eh ? (NOT)

    give them a break.. Natl had 9 loooong years to F@ck everything up & succeeded admirably.. on all counts ! 😀 😦

    • Trevors_Elbow

       /  26th May 2018

      They talked the talk for 9 loooooooooookng years (to steal your line) – now they can’t walk the talk. They didn’t have a plan when they came to power – what the hell have they been doing for 9 looooonnngg Years???

      They are just threw money at stupid priorities and ignoring the real need…based on their own definitions of real need pre-election

      Defend it all you can – but it demonstrates they incompetence

  7. Fight4NZ

     /  27th May 2018

    Why throw money at Tertiary students, not school kids?.
    If I had to guess – votes. Tertiary students can vote. If it works, being kind, they strengthen their position next term.
    But it stinks of textbook National to me. Just like tax cut bribes. Only didn’t put an election result on it.
    Seems they have been learning politics from the worst.
    Throwing money at Foreign Affairs while cutting Pharmac as well.
    Leaves a bad taste.

  1. Chris Hipkins on Q&A | Your NZ

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