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Where Is The Business Plan Minister?

Where Is The Business Plan?

media release
17 November 2001

A report on Associate Education Minister Steve Maharey’s delayed decision in the Evening Standard (15/11/01) has outraged the Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic. Mr.Maharey stated ‘until I get a business plan I can’t make a decision. And I don’t have a business plan.” In the same report a spokesman for Ucol said a business plan had been submitted to Mr.Maharey some time ago.

Mr Ross Mitchell-Anyon from Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic asks “Who do we believe, Mr Maharey who promised us a look at the document as soon as it was available or Ucol’s spokesman? We have acted in good faith. We have gone cap in hand to Maharey’s electorate office and we have been assured that there was to be a further round of consultation after the release of Ucol’s business plan and before it goes to cabinet.”

Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic were to meet with Jim Anderton early next week but an email from his office stated “… there is little point in proceeding because the policy decisions have already been through the cabinet process and an announcement is imminent.” We can only conclude that the Ucol plan has been buried until such time as the major stakeholders, the students, have all dispersed. To ensure a good number of enrolments for 2002 the Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic demand a full fee subsidy for all Year One Fine Arts, Design and Fashion students in 2002. It will cost the government no more than it has already spent on spindoctors and change managers.

Investigation has revealed that the Ministry of Education has booked a venue in Wanganui this coming week (21 November), presumably for Mr Maharey’s impending announcement and that attendance will be by invitation only. “All this has happened while we are patiently waiting for the promised Ucol business plan”, Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic spokesman, Ross Mitchell-Anyon said; “To add to the intrigue, questions of insider trading are evident in Wanganui’s real estate market with Palmerston North domiciled valuers seeking to close quick deals in Wanganui’s old town district – the home of the Fine Arts School. Our fear is that we are caught in the pincers between Steve Maharey’s Palmerston North electorate and a deeply biased official within the Ministry of Education. We have been told that even government officials don’t understand the stupidity of what now seems to be the inevitable decision.”

Friends of the Polytechnic also stated that their local MP was hamstrungby her Labour colleagues, “She was reminded of the fate of Damien O’Connor in the presence of a member of Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic at a delegation to Mr.Maharey’s office’, Mr Mitchell-Anyon said, “ We are now convinced that Wanganui is not being treated with care and respect by this Labour government. Decisions and announcements are being cynically timed. Mr Maharey’s first bombshell announcement came while students were on holiday and we suspect he is delaying his coup de grace until the students have all gone home.”

Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic have reiterated that they refuse to accept the disestablishment of the Wanganui Polytechnic. Wanganui has strong community spirit. We are not parochial – just proud of what our Polytechnic has achieved while it has been underfunded, undermined and despised by Ministry officials. Mr. Mitchell-Anyon called on the government to disclose the sums spent in Wanganui on spindoctors and change managers: “If we had the spindoctor’s fees to subsidise student fees we would be well on our way to recovery.” Given the performance of Jim Barr, the Ministry of Education’s spindoctor, in his carelessly crafted Polytechnic Update #4 where he asks the question, Why can’t Wanganui be turned around like Taranaki Polytechnic was?, then goes on to at great length to tell us lots about Taranaki’s problems and salvation but completely forgets to answer his own question. Mr Barr may be a good art collector but he is clearly quite bad at spin. While he earns $1500 + a day, Wanganui people dip into their pockets for a gold coin to pay for the Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic’s advertising bill for public meetings. “ We believe we have been treated badly. There has been bias at every step from the highest levels of the Ministry, to the Minister to our own MP.”

From Friends of the Wanganui Polytechnic

For further information you can contact:
Ross Mitchell-Anyon at 06 348 0542
Cathy Taylor at 06 345 6461
Marie McKay 06 347 8987

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