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Stay Home And Sort Out Teachers' Dispute

Trevor Mallard has his priorities all wrong in going overseas to attract foreign students, when secondary schools here are in a crisis over the protracted teachers' pay dispute, says National's Education spokesman, Nick Smith.

"The education needs of New Zealand students must come first.

"The Minister has finally conceded today that the teachers' strike action is seriously impacting on students and their qualifications, yet he seems more interested in making money out of Asian students.

"Furthermore, the ongoing disruption to schools is doing more damage to our reputation for providing education for foreign students than any marketing trip can overcome.

"Last month it was rugby, this month it is foreign students that are taking Mr Mallard offshore. His number one priority should be to sort out this bitter and prolonged dispute that he has admitted today he "could have handled quite a lot better."

"The negotiations are at a critical stage. Teachers have agreed to a proposal that provides for a 3.5 percent pay rise and a $3500 allowance over three years for the new NCEA.

"The ball is in the Government's court, yet the Minister has abandoned play. Meanwhile, schools all over the country are empty with teachers out on strike.

"Prime Minister, Helen Clark, should instruct the Minister to stay home and sort out this mess," says Dr Smith.

Ends

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