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Secretary For Education Cannot Continue In Role

Wednesday 8 May 2002

The Secretary for Education has politicised his role by placing misleading and highly biased full-page advertisements in daily newspapers, and cannot continue in the job, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata said today.

"By colluding with the Labour Government's political campaign, the Secretary for Education has compromised his impartiality. Launching a public relations campaign to turn parents against striking teachers is unethical and demonstrates terrible judgement.

"The Secretary for Education, "acting on behalf of the Government", has spent tens of thousands of dollars placing full-page advertisements in the New Zealand Herald, Dominion, Christchurch Press, Evening Post and Otago Daily Times. His misleading "letter to families" actually claims credit for Labour Government actions "outside the bargaining round".

"I want to know how much Mr Howard spent getting agency Singleton Ogilvy and Mather to design the public relations campaign. I want to know if Mr Howard spent the card rate for the advertisements, which (including GST) would cost have cost $39,898:

New Zealand Herald: $14,353

Dominion and Evening Post: $14,571

Christchurch Press: $6,690

Otago Daily Times: $4,284

"I also want to know if Mr Mallard or his staff knew of this in advance. The advertising campaign will worsen the great divide between Ministry bureaucrats and teachers. Closing that gap should be Mr Howard's priority, not trying to win a public relations war in the media.

"After demonstrating such poor judgement, Mr Howard cannot continue in his role. He must resign," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

Ends

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