Mallard Unstuck By Alliance Deal
1 May 2002
Papers released under the Official Information Act show that Education Minister Trevor Mallard's appointment of Kathleen Irwin as chair of the newly formed Teachers Council escaped proper officials checks because it was the result of a political deal with the Alliance, says National's Murray McCully.
"Papers released by an embarrassed Trevor Mallard last night show clearly that Alliance Education spokesperson Liz Gordon nominated Ms Irwin. Background papers show that the nomination was first advanced in early October last year. Handwritten notes of a subsequent meeting on the 9th of October between Liz Gordon and the Minister show that he thought her a possible board member but "maybe not for chair".
"Internal emails show that all of the other Council nominees were nominated by education organisations like the PPTA, the NZEI or the School Trustees Association. One email notes that "All except the chair taken from the list the Ministry compiled...."
"Mr Mallard clearly saw the chair's role for the new Council as little more than a coalition bargaining chip as part of his deal-making with the Alliance."
"The papers also show that the political origins of Ms Irwin's nomination contributed to the lack of proper checks. An email dated 30 October 2001 notes that an unnamed official is "doing a ring around of the various nominees at the moment to get their agreement to their names being put to Cabinet and to check for potential conflicts of interest. She will not be ringing Kathie Irwin as we understand she has already been contacted."
"Another paper noting the responsibility for checking nominees notes that Ms Irwin's nomination is for the "Minister's office to confirm."
"Clearly, if Ms Irwin's nomination had come through accepted education channels like every other Council appointee, and been checked by officials as the other were, Mr Mallard would not have suffered the embarrassment of having to sack his newly appointed chair," said Mr McCully.