3 days versus 93

In the first leadership change in ten years, since John Key took over from Don Brash on 27 November 2006, the National Party took 3 days to choose their new leader, Bill English.

On Twitter Peter Dunne as described it “as quick and slick a contest as I can recall”.

In contrast Labour have had four leadership contests that have taken a total of

Helen Clark stood down on 8 November 2008, immediately after losing the general election. Phil Goff took over unchallenged 3 days later, on 11 November.

Goff announced he would stand down as Labour leader on 29 November 2011, 3 days after losing the general election. David Shearer won leadership contest against David Cunliffe and took over on 13 December, 14 days later.

During Shearer’s time as leader the Labour party changed their rules on leadership contests, stipulating a voting arrangement involving a mix of caucus (40%), party members (40%) and unions (20%). This has extended the time taken to choose leaders.

Shearer resigned as leader on 22 August 2013. After  contesting the leadership against Grant Robertson and Shane Jones, Cunliffe became leader on 15 September, 24 days later.

After Labour lost the next election Cunliffe resigned as leader on 27 September 2014.  After a contest against Grant Robertson, David Parker and Nanaia Mahuta, Andrew Little took over on 18 November, 52 days later.

That’s a total of 93 days of leadership contesting in a decade, but the time taken has become increasingly long

Going effectively leaderless for a month or two stalls progress while in opposition but they can get away with it. If Labour get back into Government and have a contested leadership under their current rules the time taken to change Prime Ministers could be more of a problem.

Greens also have a membership vote in their leadership contests but they have co-leaders so don’t go rudderless, and they are not likely to have a Prime Minister.

Which may be just as well – Russel Norman announced he would stand down as co-leader on January 2015, and James Shaw eventually won against Kevin Hague on 30 May, over 4 months later.

NZ First and United Future have never had their leaderships contested.

Rodney Hide resigned as leader of the ACT Party on 28 April 2011, and Don Brash was appointed leader by the party board 2 days later.

When ACT did poorly in the 26 November 2011 election Brash resigned on election night.  As their only MP John Banks was de facto leader until being appointed officially by the board on 16 February 2012.

Leader’s responses

Andrew Little was quick to respond to John Key’s resignation announcement via Twitter:

That’s a gracious and respectable off the cuff reaction. And on Facebook:

Although we have our differences on policy, John Key has served this country generously and with dedication. I called him this afternoon to wish him and his family the best.

Metiria Turei put more politics and herself into her response.

A more considered response from Greens co-leader James Shaw:

Green Party statement on resignation of the Prime Minister

The Green Party wishes to extend its best wishes to the Prime Minister, following his resignation today.

“On behalf of Metiria, the Green Party MPs and the Party, I would like to thank John Key for his eight years of service as Prime Minister,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“No matter your political allegiance, you have to respect someone who chooses to make the personal sacrifices required to be our country’s Prime Minister.

“I would like to pass along our best wishes to him for whatever his future holds, and to his wife, Bronagh, and children Stephie and Max as well, who I’m sure have made many sacrifices of their own.

“Being the leader of a major political party, and indeed the country, is not an easy job; Mr Key should be applauded for his commitment to public service and to New Zealand,” said Mr Shaw.

Māori Party acknowledges John Key

Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell
Māori Party Co-Leaders

The Māori Party will always be grateful to John Key for making a space at the table of his Government for a kaupapa Māori Party.

“It has been under the leadership of John Key that the Māori Party has been able to secure gains for Maori and advance kaupapa Māori over the past eight years,” said Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

“We may not have agreed on everything but we’ve always maintained a respectful relationship with the Prime Minister and he with us,” said Mr Flavell.

“We’ve had some tough talks on many issues but at the end of the day, respect for each other prevailed and that’s why he has always seen us as a party that governments can work with,” said Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox.

“We’re all about whānau in the Māori Party, so we understand and support Mr Key’s call to return to his family and be with them more.”

Both co-leaders were confident that the new Prime Minister would continue the mana-enhancing relationship between the National Party and the Māori Party.

“It’s up to the National Party to decide who will lead them now. The Māori Party will work with anyone to advance kaupapa Māori.”

The Act Party:

And a press release:

ACT congratulates John Key

“The ACT Party congratulates John Key on eight years as Prime Minister, and the noble way he has bowed out,” says ACT Leader David Seymour

“Under John’s leadership, the Government has steadfastly maintained New Zealand’s policy settings.  As a result, we remain at the top of almost every international league table for good policy settings. In the long term, all Prime Ministers are judged for the policies they leave behind, and John will be judged well.

“It is a reality of MMP that ACT has played a vital role helping John to become and remain Prime Minister. He thanked me for that this morning. I’d like to thank him on behalf of ACT and its previous leaders for the constructive way we’ve worked together over the past eight years.

“We also extend our warmest regards to Bronagh as the Keys get their lives back after a decade of service to the country.”

Peter Dunne (United Future):

“I’m gonna miss him”.

“I got a call from the Prime Minister about 12.20 this afternoon to inform me and he gave his reasons, as I understand it family, time to move on, time to give a new leader a good chance with the run-in to the election next year etc.

“I admire him for having the courage to make that call, it would have been very easy if his mind was somewhere to have simply carried on for the sake of the party. It’s a huge decision and it’s one I think that no one in their wildest dreams would have imagined happening.

“The test will be just who the new leader is, how that beds down, and what the reaction of New Zealand is. I think most New Zealanders will take a day or two to absorb this, and then they will make a judgement based on what they see the likely new line-up looking like.”

Ex Prime Minister Helen Clark:

 “John Key has worked tirelessly to promote New Zealand and its interests over eight years as Prime Minister. I am personally highly appreciative of the support he has given me as a New Zealander in the international system. I respect his decision to stand down now and spend more time with Bronagh and his children, and I wish him all the best for whatever the future holds.”

Bill English:

John Key’s intelligence, optimism and integrity as Leader of the National Party and Prime Minister of New Zealand means he will be judged by history as one of New Zealand’s greatest leaders, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

“On behalf of the National Party, the Government and New Zealand I thank John for his years of dedicated and outstanding service to our country.

“Through good times and bad, his strong leadership has been steadfast and this is a more confident, successful and self-assured country because of his contribution. He has truly made a difference.

“I thank Bronagh, Stephie and Max for the sacrifice they’ve made to enable John to be an extremely successful and effective leader.  We are deeply appreciative.

“While the gap he leaves is huge we understand and respect his decision to step down from a job from which there is no respite.  We wish John and his family every success with their life out of the public eye.

“Under John Key’s leadership the Government has worked alongside New Zealanders to ensure our country is one of the most desirable places to live, work and raise a family in the world.”

The National Caucus will consider the implications of the Prime Minister’s decision and how to ensure New Zealand stays on course to continue building a strong economy, increasing opportunities for our families and businesses, rewarding enterprise and effort, while protecting the most vulnerable.

“It is a tribute to the Prime Minister’s outstanding leadership that he will leave behind a united team with plenty of talent to take New Zealand forward and build on his legacy,” Mr English says.

The worst for last – Winston Peters:

Prime Minister John Key’s announcement today that he is to stand down cannot be credible , or for any reasons he has given, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The fact is that the economy is not in the healthy state that the Prime Minister has for so long claimed, and there are other issues which have caused this decision as well.

“The New Zealand public should have been informed of this a long time ago.

“Clearly the Prime Minister does not believe the superficial polls any longer.

“Contrary to certain perceptions the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister are unable to muddy the waters anymore.”

Is he just a bitter old twit, or does he really think that will attract support for NZ First?

3 strikes ‘an ugly piece of law’

Jacinda Ardern, in her weekly co-column with David Seymour, desrobes 3 strikesd as “an ugly piece of law”.

Stuff: Jacinda v David: Three-strikes law is no home run

You may remember this law. It was fairly controversial at the time, and was one of the ACT Party’s babies. David Garrett was the champion of the bill, and having now exited Parliament it was David Seymour who has been left to defend what I can only describe as an ugly piece of law.

I don’t use those words lightly, but when you have a combination of bad law, coupled with populism, I just don’t know what else you can call it. And that’s exactly what three strikes is.

It did seem to pander to a populist demographic – the ‘throw  away the key’ mob. But this didn’t translate into voter support for Act, who dropped from 5 MPs to 1 after the law was passed.

Let’s be absolutely clear though. No one is for a moment implying that if you commit multiple offences that it shouldn’t be taken into account. But judges already have to consider previous convictions as an aggravating factor when they hand down a sentence. All that the three strikes legislation did was remove the discretion they had over how they factored that in. And examples like this recent case highlight how clumsy the law now is as a result.

The ugly part, of course, is that a law like ‘three strikes’ sounds good – like we’re sending a hard message and that we will all be safer as a result. But what do you do when the evidence shows that that’s not what this law does? Do you fly in the face of facts and evidence just because of the perception? I’d like to believe Parliament is better than that, perhaps it’s time to show it.

Seymour responds:

Three strikes for violent crime is a good law. It doesn’t just deter recidivism – it removes the worst criminals from our streets, ensuring they can’t terrorise peaceful New Zealanders.

But 3 strikes offences are not just for violence – the infamous first 3rd strike sentence was for grabbing a female prison officer’s bum.

Parliament passed this law to reflect the public’s view that the judiciary has been lax on reoffending. The legal profession may have their nose out of joint over it but in a democracy the public has the ultimate say.

‘The public’s view’ is a bit of a stretch. The way democracy worked here is a party with 5 MPs did a coalition deal with National that allowed the 3 strikes legislation to be passed through Parliament. ‘The public’ didn’t have their views measured democratically.

As for the ‘bottom pinching’ case – Jacinda ignores how the judge invoked three strikes’ in-built safety valve (the ‘manifestly unjust’ clause), meaning the offender will likely be released on parole after a third of his seven-year sentence.

The ‘manifestly unjust’ clause has been used three times under this law – that could suggest the law is inherently unjust.

It’s true that early evidence is limited, but the figures point in the right direction – compared to before the law was passed, new violent offenders are reoffending significantly less often.

But the connection there is debatable.

Last year lawyer Graeme Edgeler posted on this –The Greg King Memorial Blogpost: Three Strikes, Five Years On (now retracted) – in which he said:

So strike crime is down around 20% since three strikes came into effect.

Claiming cause and effect over something like that is the type of intractable debate that you get into over the effect of longer prison sentences. But what we are looking at is not the general deterrent effect of three strikes (fear of punishment in the public at large), but specific deterrence: fear of punishment by those who have a conviction for strike offending who have been personally warned by a judge that further strike offending is treated very seriously.

Had the three strikes law been in place on 1 June 2005, the following five years would have seen 256 offenders receive second strikes.

Now, strike crime is down in general, but the ~20% fall in strike offending is dwarfed by the ~62% fall in strike recidivism.

But Edgeler has just retracted this Retraction: Three Strikes Five Years On.

On September 30 2015, I published a post: The Greg King Memorial Blogpost: Three Strikes Five Years On.

I retract that post. I am grateful to Dominion Post journalist Nikki Macdonald for her story published today looking at three strikes that determined that my piece was unsupportable.

The principal comparison I made in that post, between the number of second-strikes there had been during the first five years after three strikes, and the number there would have been in the five years before three strikes, had three strikes been in place five years earlier, is invalid. The pre-three-strikes data and the post-three-strikes data on which the post was based are not comparable.

The conclusions I reached in my post, as tentative as they were, are not supported by the evidence. I do not know what the correct figures are, but I have substantially overstated the number of second strikes there would have been.

The data he had used to base his original post on was inadequate.

So debate will continue on how ugly the law is that attempts to address an ugly part of our society, violence.

As for the ‘bottom pinching’ case – Jacinda ignores how the judge invoked three strikes’ in-built safety valve (the ‘manifestly unjust’ clause), meaning the offender will likely be released on parole after a third of his seven-year sentence.

So the law works, even in difficult scenarios.

It’s too soon to tell, except that ‘difficult scenarios’ have been the rule rather than exceptions so far.

But Seymour wants to expand 3 strikes to also cover burglaries.

In fact, ACT would introduce a three-strikes law for burglary, meaning third-strike burglars would be jailed for three years. Burglary mightn’t be violent, but it can be extremely traumatising for its victims.

Does it make sense to load our prisons up even more?

And burglaries will be harder to deal with. I don’t know how a prescribed law can take into account likely anomalies.

It’s common for burglary prosecutions to involve multiple offences. How would a straightjacket law deal with one prosecution and conviction for say ten burglaries once a recidivist was caught, and three separate prosecutions for three burglaries.

3 strikes was in part sold on the basis of protecting society from the ‘worst of the worst’ but is already much wider than that, and Act want to widen it even further.

What’s next – 3 strikes for speeding?

It’s odd that 3 strikes has become the one issue that Act have become identified with.  From their website:

Our vision

  • A free society: free trade, free speech, and personal and religious freedom
  • A nation that values personal responsibility, tolerance, civility and compassion
  • Small government, low taxes, secure property rights, and the law applied equally to all citizens

While 3 strikes laws try to enforce personal responsibility they don’t seem to be compatible with tolerance, civility and compassion.

Applying the law equally to all citizens is a difficult ideal to achieve, but 3 strikes laws  is hardly going to help.

Seymour slams Super policies

Act MP David Seymour has slammed ‘baby boomers’ (I’m one of those) that he says will “turn our country into a debt-ridden basket case”.

The Spinoff: NZ baby boomers are building a banana republic, and no one gives a shit

The Treasury has made it clear that current superannuation policies will turn our country into a debt-ridden basket case, and yet media remain largely silent and politicians in denial. Young people need to get voting in a hurry, writes David Seymour.

You could be forgiven for missing that the Treasury published its four-yearly Long-term Fiscal Outlook this week (please, please stay with me, I promise this is worth it). The gist of the report is the same as the previous two editions:

If no policy changes are made, by 2060, when current students reach retirement age, government debt will be 206 per cent of GDP.

No matter how well you prepare for retirement, you’ll be living in a banana republic.

No, it’s unlikely to be a republic, New Zealand politicians are as reluctant to deal with ditch the monarchy as they are dealing with escalating superannuation costs.

The reason? Ageing baby boomers who will be more numerous and longer-lived in retirement than any generation before them. Right now there are four working-aged taxpayers supporting every retiree, but by the time current university students retire there will be only two.

Probably – unless eating ourselves to earlier deaths reverses the improving life expectancy trends of recent decades.

The cost of pensions and healthcare as a share of the economy will double, the government will run large deficits, and the international financial community will demand higher interest rates on New Zealand government debt, leading to larger deficits.

John Key and Bill English claim the country can afford the huge increases in costs, or they don’t care about leaving the problem for future governments.

The first way of absorbing the change is to raise taxes by about a quarter, so GST becomes nearly 20 per cent and the top tax rate goes over 40 per cent, along with every other rate being increased by the same proportion. People embarking on their careers now would pay a 25 per cent extra “boomer tax” for being born at the wrong time.

There tends to be a bit of resistance to increasing tax rates, especially by this sort of amount.

Another alternative is extreme productivity growth, the private economy grows faster than ever for longer than ever, and public services become more efficient than ever. We basically trade our way out of this situation and become so rich we can afford all-you-can-eat pensions and healthcare for retiring boomers.

This is the Key/English gamble.

The problem is that pensions are tied to income so getting wealthier just increases the amount paid out.

The final option is to adjust pension entitlements. Follow Australia, the US, UK, Germany, Canada, to name a few, who have increased the retirement age so there are more workers and fewer pension recipients.

Seymour laments the lack of media coverage of the report and the predicted problems – but people have been shouting  about Super unaffordability for a long time, but politician’s ears are deaf to it.

John Key has torpedoed the debate by saying he’d rather resign than raise the pension age, effectively saying to his supporters: choose fiscal sustainability, or me. Labour and the Greens have followed suit, abandoning the policy after the last election. New Zealand First would rather serve yum cha at their party conference than debate the issue.

Almost every political leader is holding their hands up to their ears and chanting, “la la la la la.”

Peter Dunne tried to force a re-evaluation of Super in the last term of the current Government, proposing ‘flexi-super’, but English and Key looked like having no intention of  acting on the ‘discussion document’ that was done as part of their confidence and supply agreement with United Future.

If NZ First holds the balance of power after next year’s election there is now way Winston will allow any cutting back of Super payments for his primary constituency.

National under Key’s leadership is committed to kicking the Super can down the road.

Unless ACT gets a few more seats and is in a balance of power situation and forces National to do something?

That may be what Seymour is angling at.

To have any hope of success I think that Act and Seymour will have to promote Super change (not ‘discussion’) as a core election policy, and they will have to win enough seats to be able to force Key’s hand.

If Act succeeds in the election then the choice may be National+Act with Super reform, or National+NZ First with a booming Super budget with a risk of our economy blowing up (after Winston has retired or died so he won’t care).

I think Seymour has the gumption to have a go at this. Would he get enough support? Will younger people start to vote for Act to try to sort out their not so Super prospects?

Seymour versus PPTA president

David Seymour has criticised comments made by PPTA president Angela Roberts regarding serious offending against children. Roberts has attacked back, accusing Seymour of misconstruing her comments, “probably done so deliberately”.

This started with a Newshub report: 54 teachers in 3 years struck off for violations

Official figures obtained by Newshub reveal 75 teachers have been censured and 54 have lost their registration in the past three years for violations including sexual misconduct, assault and sex abuse.

It comes as 10 teachers in September went before the Education Disciplinary Tribunal for violations ranging from inappropriate relationships with students to fraud.

PPTA president Angela Roberts says it’s important for the Education Council to monitor the statistics to pick up any trends.

“They may find that there is an increased trend of teachers who are suffering from significant stress, and some really poor decisions get made,” she told Newshub, “and if that’s something they see a trend is coming through on, then actually how do they respond to that?”

She says it’s important the Education Council has good processes in place to protect teachers and students, as issues can rapidly get thorny.

“It can get really complicated very quickly – do the police need to be involved, is it just an employment issue or is it a registration issue? So there are three bits to it.”

Seymour responded: PPTA president’s comments disgrace her profession

ACT Leader David Seymour says teachers should call for Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) President Angela Roberts’ resignation after her casual dismissal of inappropriate conduct towards students being due to ‘stress.’

“When it suits them, the PPTA claim to be the altruistic guardians of children’s education,“ says Mr Seymour.  “When it is revealed that 10 teachers are being investigated, six for inappropriate conduct, in the past month, the PPTA President had the following to say: ‘They may find that there is an increased trend of teachers who are suffering from significant stress, and some really poor decisions get made.’

“Inappropriate conduct can severely damage a child for life. Over the past three years 75 teachers have been investigated and 54 struck off, but the PPTA show no remorse, simply citing ’stress’ and ’bad decisions.’  It’s a joke.  The thousands of good teachers up and down New Zealand should be outraged and making it clear that these comments are not in their name.

“What she could have said is that the PPTA strongly opposes child abuse by teachers, there is no excuse, and the PPTA will be taking steps to protect children.  Instead, she explains it away as being someone else’s fault, someone else’s responsibility.

“The PPTA frequently claim that lobbying and strikes are not out of self-interest but concern for children’s education.  These comments, unintentionally perhaps but true all the same, show a union out of control and living in a parallel universe.  The comments are a disgrace for the whole profession and Roberts should either apologise or resign.”

Calling for a resignation seems an extreme response and is usually something that opposition MPs resort to far too often.

However Roberts does sound like she was downplaying abuse by teachers as being mitigated “due to suffering from significant stress, and that “some really poor decisions get made”.

And far more important than monitoring trends is the detection of abuse and appropriate action against teachers found to be abusing children. And even more important that measures are taken to try and prevent abuse happening in the first place.

Many people suffer from stress in workplaces and in homes. Actually we all do to varying degrees. That is no excuse for abusing children.

Fair enough to question Roberts on what she said, but it seems somewhat provocative to call for her resignation.

At NZ Herald in Act leader David Seymour slams comments by PPTA president  Roberts responded:

Roberts told the Herald that Seymour had misconstrued those comments, perhaps deliberately.

They were made as part of a longer interview, and were about the wider issue of dealing with both disciplinary and competency matters, Roberts said.

“If what I had said was, teachers are under stress and they make poor decisions – if I had been referring to cases of serious misconduct, then, yes, that would be dismissive and inappropriate.

“But that wasn’t what I was referring to. I was talking about all cases of deregistration – there is a huge range. There is conduct, but there’s also competence. And I was talking about all cases referred to the council.

“We do need to look at trends…the ones that are about bad people, absolutely those should be dealt with.”

Fair enough to clarify what she meant and the context the comments were made in.

But accusing Seymour of deliberately misconstruing her comments doesn’t help her argument.

And while Roberts has defended her comments she doesn’t appear to have done anything to address her or PPTA views on teacher abuse of children.

A professor wrote this?

Peter O’Connor is professor of education in the faculty of education and social work at the University of Auckland. This is under his name at the Herald.

Government hell-bent on dismantling public education, says Auckland professor

Make no mistake, Minister of Education Hekia Parata is on a mission to systematically dismantle public education. Changes already in place and those planned will radically alter the education landscape in New Zealand.

The current government wants to make changes, but nowhere near ‘dismantle public education’.

After World War II the consensus was that schooling served wider social purposes than individual achievement. The war had sprung from extremist views caused by social and economic uncertainty and inequality. Public education was seen as vital to protecting democracy from these twin threats. It became part of a highly successful global agenda to reduce inequality so the poor could make enough money to own their homes and have a stake in their world.

A rich and broad curriculum designed to ensure functional literacy was supplemented by critical literacy so the population had the tools to challenge what they were told by their governments and by those with racist or extremist views.

That sounds nothing like the narrow curriculum that I was schooled under. I wonder how old O’Connor is. here’s his current profile pic.

Profile Image

Neoliberal policies that have dominated Western democracies for a generation have brought a reversal of this agenda with a growth of inequality that has been breathtaking in scale and speed.

The scale of exaggeration there is breathtaking. As is the inaccuracy.

adultnzqal4

Since ‘neo-liberalism’ the percentage of New Zealand adults with tertiary level qualifications has risen from 35.7% in 1991 (the Ruth Richardson era) to 54.6% in 2014.

Alongside is the growth internationally of extremist and dehumanising ideologies which threaten the fabric of Western democracies.

That’s both highly debatable and has nothing to do with past or present education policies in New Zealand.

The end game of a callous undermining of the public education system is the collapse of an informed participatory citizenship.

He actually seems to be suggesting that there is a deliberate ‘endgame’ to precipitate a ‘collapse of an informed participatory citizenship’. He provides no evidence of this.

I’d expect to see this sort of nonsense in the depths of The Standard, but not in an opinion article by a university professor.

The Government’s attack on education is still driven by the “step change” policy Hekia Parata worked on with Roger Douglas and Heather Roy before she became minister. In other words, the reforms are driven by the fringe right wing of New Zealand politics.

That might be true if Douglas and Roy were the only two people Parata consulted with and listened to. Otherwise it looks like the ranting of a fringe loony.

The Act party has never particularly valued democracy, having gamed the system with their representation in Parliament….

Why pick on Act? All parties ‘game the system’ to achieve as much representation in Parliament as they can. That’s what happens in any functional democracy.

This sounds like petulant pissiness.

…and still believes, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary at home and internationally, that private companies can provide better, more efficient core services than Government.

The reform agenda is most visible in the nonsense of charter schools. Despite poor achievement, chilling mediocrity and lack of innovation, their disproportionately high level of funding and less stringent oversight make them grow like a cancer on the wider system.

That just about totally misrepresents what is currently being promoted by Act in education – partnership schools are a very small alternative to public education, and mostly involve trusts trying to educate kids who fail under the current public system, not for-profit companies.

David Seymour has made a point of promoting Maori involvement in partnership schools – one of the demographics failing the most under the public school system.

And is O’Connor really claiming that partnership schools are less innovative than traditional schools, the sort of schools that resist innovations via teacher unions who oppose change?

While public league tables shame schools for failing to lift educational achievement, the Government refuses to admit the impact of poverty on children’s learning.

I call crap on that, I think it is blatantly false.

There is no genuine desire to uplift the lives of the poor. It is easier to deny they exist by phoning a few favoured principals to ask if they’ve seen anyone hungry.

That’s also crap, but typical rhetoric you might see from fringe lefties and the Green and Labour parties who make ridiculous accusations about anyone who they decide doesn’t fit within their narrow views.

As national standards restrict and diminish a broad and rich curriculum, critical education is replaced by a focus on low level skills for a low level wage economy.

What is ‘critical education’ and have we ever had anything like it in public schools?

I see claims like the Government deliberately keeps wages low and deliberately dumbs down education so the rich can get richer (they never explain how that might work) at The Standard or The Daily Blog, not from a university professor.

Meanwhile, private schools continue to offer a wealth of learning opportunities to children of our neoliberal leaders and a middle class prepared to stomach the debt. The alternative “choice” for the excluded majority is cheap online charter schools, siphoning off yet more public wealth.

This sort of political rant doesn’t look like it has benefited from a broad and rich curriculum and a critical education.

All current funding proposals are about shifting around existing funds. There is no further investment and no recognition that quality public education is vital and deserves real and sustained financial support.

More vague claptrap, and  claims that can easily be shown to be false. From this year’s budget:

Vote Tertiary Education 

The Government’s total direct spend on tertiary education is forecast to be approximately $4.3 billion in 2016/17. The Government is investing $256.5 million over four years in tertiary education through the Tertiary Education package for Budget 2016. 

The Tertiary Education initiatives are a part of the ‘Innovative New Zealand’ package. 

Innovative New Zealand is a series of 25 initiatives that will see $761.4 million invested over the next four years in science, skills, tertiary education and regional development initiatives. These will help diversify the economy, and support more jobs and higher wages for New Zealanders in the decade ahead.

http://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/budgets/budget-2016/

O’Connor goes on, and on:

It would be easy to say the education reforms lack imagination and are simply a lazy reiteration of failed policies of the 1990s. However, that would be to ignore the clear vision that drives them. It’s a vision that privileges the private sector, which creates schools as competing business units and pretends poverty and unfairness don’t matter.

When public education becomes yet another thing we may lose, along with the dream that hard work meant you could leave poverty behind, own your own home and balance a 40-hour working week with leisure time, we will wonder why we let it go so easily and ask what we gained instead.

The right wing will then tell us joylessly that we got choice. And when that happens we will know we got conned. Again.

I think that O’Connor has tried to con us into believing he was educated under a rich and broad curriculum to be able to think critically.

What are his areas of expertise, apart from fringe politics? From his University of Auckland biography:

Professor O’Connor is an internationally recognised expert in applied theatre and drama education. His research focuses on applied theatre in marginalised and vulnerable communities. It has led to developing cutting-edge models of interdisciplinary praxis that explore the nexus of critical and creative pedagogies, aesthetics and social justice.

There appears to have been no research or critical thinking involved in his Herald rant.

I wonder what he teaches his students.

Peter supervises Doctoral and Masters students using arts based methodologies with a social justice focus.  He is an experienced suprervisor of the PhD with creative component.

He teaches people to be social justice warriors?

He might be experienced in theatre and drama, but whoever wrote his biography must have skipped Spelling 101.

Like anyone professors can have political opinions and leanings, but when they publish political claptrap while citing their academic credentials (and no facts to back their arguments) it doesn’t do them or their university any credit.

Cross party support for family violence proposals

The Press editorial: Government’s $130 million family violence package is a solid start

A $130 million plan announced by the Government this week to crack down on violence in Kiwi homes has been welcomed by most victims, support and advocacy groups, and politicians on both sides of the House.

While there are some concerns and reservations, it is good to see cross party support for this.

Greens: Family violence law reforms will help

It is heartening that the Government is finally starting to address the failure of our justice system to provide protection for victims of family violence or support abusers to change,  the Green Party said today.

“Family violence is currently embedded in New Zealand culture and we all need to be brave to face the level of changes needed to address it,” Green Party women’s spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“Too many families have been further traumatised and indebted trying to get legal protection through our courts. Changes to legal aid and the Family Court last term prioritised cost-saving over protecting victims. These reforms will hopefully go some way to addressing that harm caused.

“All New Zealanders need to hear loud and clear the message that family violence, intimate partner violence, and violence against children is unacceptable.     

United Future: UNITEDFUTURE WELCOMES OVERDUE REFORMS TO TACKLE FAMILY VIOLENCE – DUNNE

UnitedFuture leader, Peter Dunne has welcomed the changes proposed today to strengthen New Zealand’s Family Violence laws.

“Our families are the bedrock of our communities and the rates of family violence we have in this country are appalling.

“These changes signal a much-needed shift in the way we respond to family violence,” said Mr Dunne.

“The key issue that needs to be focused on in New Zealand is the alarming fact that it is estimated nearly 80% of family violence incidents go unreported.

“If these reforms make any difference towards providing help to those people who currently do not feel safe or are not comfortable coming forward with their plight, then these policy initiatives will result in positive and meaningful reform.

“UnitedFuture congratulates the government for constructively responding to this unacceptable behaviour that is a blight to our families and communities”, said Mr Dunne.

ACT Party: ACT welcomes beefed up family violence laws, but…

ACT has welcomed the boost to family violence laws announced today, but questions why non-fatal strangulation isn’t a strike offence.

“ACT believes the justice system should always put the victim first. In that spirit, we’re relieved to see new protections for victims of family violence,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Reducing the cost and complexity of obtaining restraining orders is a no-brainer, and legislating against coercive marriage is an overdue protection of basic personal freedom.

“We also support the introduction of an offence for non-fatal strangulation. However, it’s perplexing to discover that non-fatal strangulation will not be included as a strike offence under the Three Strikes for Violent Crime legislation.

“The Three Strikes law, an ACT initiative, has been working well to keep repeat violent offenders behind bars and away from potential victims, so it’s disheartening to see it undermined by the current legislation. Strangulation, like all violent crime, is a serious offence and should be treated as such.”

NZ First via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

New Zealand First MP Denis O’Rourke said the measures were a step in the right direction.

“Fundamentally, what they’re saying is there needs to be more guidance, information and education on the one hand but also harsher penalties. I would have thought that that two-pronged approach is the right way to go,” Mr O’Rourke said.

Labour via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

Labour’s associate justice spokesperson Poto Williams said tighter bail conditions would increase safety for women and their children.

But she said the government should have made it easier for offenders to access services to help them stop violent behaviour.

Maori party via RNZ ‘I’ve seen the black eyes, no-one talks about it’

Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said having witnessed domestic violence as a child, he hoped the changes would help reduce the appalling statistics.

Mr Flavell said family violence was prevalent in almost every neighbourhood and changes were certainly needed.

He said it was all too often swept under the rug.

“I’ve sat on a bunk next to my cousins and I’ve heard the smashing of the walls. I’ve heard the throwing of pots around the place. I’ve seen the black eyes – and no-one talks about it.”

Cabinet documents showed police attended an average of 280 family violence incidents each day.

Mr Flavell, who is Māori Development Minister, said everyone had a part to play in bringing down those rates.

“That’s the key – you’ve got to start bringing it out of the cupboard. We’ve got to put it out on the table.”

“There’s a part to play by the actual government, by changing laws but actually families have got to talk about it and do something about it.”

Flavell is right, it is not just up to Parliament and the Government to make improvements.

Families and communities “have got to talk about it and do something about it“.

While there are details to be worked out it is promising to see all parties supporting this attempt to reduce our insidious levels of family violence.

ACT versus National on tax

This week’s ACT Free Press is highly critical of National “boasting that they’ve increased wealth redistribution”.

From a press release from Steven Joyce – Significant income redistribution after tax reforms:

New data from the Treasury shows that income redistribution across New Zealand’s income tax and support system continues to increase, with the top 10 per cent of households forecast to pay 37.2 per cent of income tax in 2016/17, compared with 35.5 per cent in 2007/08.

“This latest data confirms that New Zealand’s income tax and support system significantly redistribute incomes to households in need,” Acting Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

The rich are paying a bigger proportion of the income tax:

“Higher income households are paying a larger share of income tax than they were in 2008, and lower income households are paying less – the 30 per cent of households with the lowest incomes are forecast to pay just 5.4 per cent of income tax, compared with 6.3 per cent in 2007/08.

“This is before the effect of redistribution from Working For Families and benefits. The Government has increased support for low income families to help New Zealanders through times of need. So at any particular time, a large number of households effectively don’t pay income tax,” Mr Joyce says.

“It’s appropriate to maintain a tax and income support system that helps low and middle income households when they most need it.”

And 42% of households will pay less income tax than they receive from than they receive from welfare benefits, Working for Families, New Zealand Superannuation and accommodation subsidies. This is up from 39% in 2007/2008.

This won’t include what GST they pay though, which can be where about half of the income of the poor people now goes.

ACT Free Press:

Housing is the Underlying Driver
Also last week the Ministry of Social Development released its update of household income inequality from 1982-2015.  It measures income inequality before housing costs and after housing costs. 

Specifically
Dr Bryce Wilkinson of the New Zealand Initiative says there has been no significant change in income inequality over the last 10, 15, 20 or even 25 years depending on the measure used, before housing costs.  However the bottom 20 per cent of households (by income) spent 29 per cent of their income on housing in the 1980s compared with 54 per cent now.

Free Press concludes:

The National Party is taxing top earners hard, then shovelling the money at low income earners who pay more for housing.  Free Press suspects that it is mostly top earners who benefit from rising house prices, so completing the money-go-round.  This is nuts.

When the money-go-round is spinning fast it can be hard to slow down and difficult to hop off.

What would ACT do?

It is time to give taxpayers relief.  As ACT has said before, the best way to do this is to index tax brackets to inflation (this would have saved the average household $2,500 in tax since 2010 by ending bracket creep).  Ideally we should cut the top rates, clearly the ‘rich’ (read hard working PAYE earners) are paying their share. 

I agree that tax increases by stealth – allowing bracket creep without adjustment – should be dealt with differently.

At the same time, there needs to be serious land use and infrastructure funding reform to get the housing market functioning again.

There’s been a lot of talk but little tangible change on housing, apart from prices continuing to escalate.

However if National reduced income tax for higher earners and if they reduced tax redistribution to poorer people there would be political hell to pay.

 

 

New Partnership Schools

ACT MP David Seymour has announced plans for more partnership schools (often referred to as charter schools). Via Twitter:

Proud to announce two new Partnership Schools to open in 2017, Te Aratika Academy in Napier and Kopuku High in Hamilton. These schools are generating new options for Kids and are a great ACT success story.

This links to Seymour: Two new charter schools approved for 2017 (NZ Herald):

Two new charter schools, one in Hamilton and one in Napier, have been approved to open in 2017, adding to the eight already operating.

Education Under-Secretary and Act leader David Seymour said only two were chosen from 26 applicants, both of which would have a special Maori character.

But he knew of several that would be applying again in 2017 for 2018 openings.

Quality was more important that quantity, he said.

The two new schools:

  • Hamilton – Te Kōpuku High: a co-educational composite secondary school for years 7 to 13. It will have a late immersion kaupapa Māori special character, and will target Māori students. Sponsored by Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust. Opening roll of 90 with a maximum of 300 by 2021.

Cath Rau for Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust said Te Kopuku High would be the first partnership school in Hamilton.

The trust was both the sponsor and deliverer of the curriculum. The trust had for the past 20 years supported kohanga reo and kura wharekura.

“We saw an opportunity through the partnership school initiative to use the cumulative knowledge and experience that we have gained in the Maori medium pipeline and provide an educational opportunity for Maori students in Hamilton who have not yet had the opportunity to learn te reo Maori or to learn in a kaupapa Maori context.”

She said the Partnership school would give the trust a lot more control than it had before.

  • Napier – Te Aratika Academy: a single sex (male) senior secondary school for years 11 to 13. It will have a vocationally-focused kaupapa Māori special character, and will target male Māori students. Sponsored by Te Aratika Charitable Trust. An opening roll of 67, with a maximum of 200 by 2019.

…a new charitable trust formed by Te Aratika Drilling, a civil construction firm across the North Island.

Ronnie Rochel, the director of the company, said that since 1998 she had been working and mentoring young men.

“I am passionate about providing a platform for change,” she said.

She saw many young boys come in to apply for jobs and although they had been through the school system, they were were not employment-ready.

Seymour told reporters…

…that sponsors of Partnership Schools, the official name for charter schools, were “some of the most heroic people” he had ever known.

They had set up schools in some of the shortest time frames and aimed to raise achievement for students who were not engaged in the state system.

“Vanguard Military School has taken on 60 kids who previously were not attending any school whatsoever when they came to Vanguard.”

Most schools had had positive results, some within their first year.

One of the aims of partnership schools is to provide education for children who currently fail in the current state education system.

Sign up to ‘our values’

ACT MP David Seymour says that refuges should sign up to ‘our values’. This sounds like a populist poke.

NZH: Refugees should sign-up to our values, says Act’s David Seymour

Act Party leader David Seymour welcomed the quota’s increase to 1000 from 2018 – but said new arrivals should sign a “statement of commitment to New Zealand values”, including freedom of speech, and respect for women and those of different sexualities.

“Countries like Australia and Belgium require immigrants to sign a statement of commitment to national values. A New Zealand Values Statement could include a commitment to respect the basic freedoms that make this country a wonderful place to live.”

Seymour doesn’t seem to have explained how a set of ‘our values’ might be defined, how a pledge to uphold the standards would work in practice.

There is no way a values pledge could be enforced, it would be futile with changes of attitudes and could not do anything about children of refugees.

Who would define what values should be pledged to? The commenters at Kiwiblog?  Authors at Whale Oil? Commenters at The Daily Blog? Authors at Boots Theory?

As a country we couldn’t have a civil discussion and decision on what our flag should look like. I don’t see much chance of defining values that new citizens must pledge to.

And what about existing citizens and the values they live by?

Shouldn’t New Zealand citizens all endeavour to set an example by which refugees and immigrants could follow by examplke?