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Maharey's Prize Policy Unnecessarily Delayed

11 June 2002

The untimely and unnecessary calling of an election has derailed Labour's flagship tertiary education policy and betrayed the hard work coalition partners had put into making it happen, says the Alliance education spokesperson Dr. Liz Gordon.

As Chair of the Education and Science Select Committee, Dr. Gordon was responsible for shepherding the bill through public consultation and back into the House.

"I don't mean to complain but frankly I had to put up with a lot of grief over this bill, including the late addition of an export education levy. I was happy to comply because the new tertiary regime will promote effective use of taxpayer funds and will keep fees down.

"Then my party gets effectively blamed for bringing about the election that will prevent this legislation being passed until way beyond the set-up date for the Commission, delaying the reforms for at least a year.

"It's a bit on the nose, isn't it?"

Dr. Gordon says that the most important work of the Tertiary Education Commission cannot now proceed.

"There is no legislative base for a tertiary education strategy. The Commission will have no mandate to negotiate with tertiary education institutions in terms of funding and provision, the NZQA will not have new powers to deal with problem institutions, the export levy that was dumped on us in such a rush will not proceed and the status of Skill New Zealand remains unresolved", she said.

"I feel sorry for Steve Maharey because this policy is the culmination of so much work. Frankly I am astounded that the Prime Minister has failed to prioritise the key work of one of her most senior ministers, and has put political advantage before the needs of tertiary education".


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