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Select committee cedes harsh power to Minister

25 June 2004

Select committee cedes harsh power to Minister

“APPEL deplores the Education and Science Committee’s backing of the unloved Education (Export Education Levy) Amendment Bill, opposed by the entire export education industry, from Education New Zealand to the Vice Chancellors’ Committee,” said Patrick Ibbertson, chairperson of APPEL.

“This wretched Bill gives a Minister unique and illogical power to compel honest, ethical institutions to cough up for losses if competitors close down – for any reason! No other legitimate business in New Zealand would be subjected to such a harsh regime. Worst of all, quality institutions have no possible way to manage this risk since the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Ministry of Education control entry and quality assurance. These agencies are responsible for a complete failure to check up on some private providers. Select committee members acknowledged alarming weaknesses in NZQA's approach in their minority reports, but the Bill goes forward regardless."

“In the case of Modern Age, which closed last year, NZQA accepted a verbal assurance from an accountant that a trust account would be OK in future without any investigation of the admitted previous irregularities. If government agencies just accept verbal assurances rather than checking the records, quality providers are exposed to enormous risks. The legal profession can control the entry and exit of lawyers but PTEs now face an open-ended contingent liability over which they have no control.”

“We are working with Government agencies to improve regulation and we hope to see some progress, but to date there has been more effort put into the ambulance at the bottom, than putting in a fence at the top, of the cliff. We still have no credible enforcement of current regulations.”

“We support the Committee’s proposal to remove all retrospective elements from the Bill. That is a positive step, but we still face unmanageable risks in the future.”

The select committee report is at: www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/Content/SelectCommitteeReports/101bar2.pdf.

ENDS


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