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Mallard's Last Act

Mallard's Last Act

Wednesday 3 Jul 2002 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Education

The release of Labour's mediocre "vision" for education will be Trevor Mallard's last act as Education Minister, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata said today.

"I know for a fact that Labour backbenchers and the Maori Caucus are itching to get Mr Mallard out of the Education portfolio. Helen Clark depends on him as her bovver boy, but even she cannot continue to accept his incompetence and lack of understanding of the portfolio. Marian Hobbs has practically nailed her name to Mr Mallard's door.

"I'm stunned that the Labour Party's education "vision" doesn't once mention the teacher negotiation crisis or the failed NCEA scheme. Teachers, parents and kids will be better off without Mr Mallard - our country's worst Education Minister since Merv Wellington.

"Trevor Mallard is repeating the same promises he made three years ago. I've looked through his press releases from December 1999, and found that way back then he promised "to create a central records database" to get long-term truants back in school. New Zealand made the mistake of believing him then, but we know better now. Mr Mallard has refused to implement a database despite my letters reminding him of his promise. Today he has the arrogance to regurgitate that same old promise.

"Because of Mr Mallard's inaction on this front, over 1,000 children have managed to completely drop out since the last election. These children are the legacy of Mr Mallard's time in office.

"Mr Mallard has completely under-funded early childhood education. He doesn't know what to do with this sector. Last year he told us he would make preschool compulsory. Now, he tells us that his biggest aim is to give bureaucrats more control.

"Labour's education "vision" tells us nothing. It sets no clear targets. It fails to address literacy failure or Labour's racist school zoning policies. Mr Mallard knows NCEA is a complete mess, so he doesn't bother talking about it. That doesn't help the thousands of kids facing his failed assessment system.

"In contrast, ACT is proud to address the issues that actually affect kids and parents. We are the only political party that has consistently opposed NCEA. We will give schools the freedom to set external examinations, and we will implement a clear system of standards and testing to ensure that no child misses out.

"We will replace the antiquated teacher negotiation system which relies on unionists and bureaucrats, with a system of devolved funding to schools. We know that for a high quality education system, we must pay good teachers more.

"Mr Mallard is endorsing the status quo. He's saying, "let's just do nothing and hope we produce some bright kids". I had more respect for him in 1987 when he and Helen Clark both voted to bulk-fund schools.

"Mr Mallard is entrusting the future of our children in the hands of bureaucrats and unionists, and hoping like hell that things will work out well.

"Mr Mallard obviously knows his time is up. He's given up, and today admitted that he has no fresh ideas," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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