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Mr English gets it wrong - no.2

16 February, 2005

Mr English gets it wrong - no.2

A reference to the New Zealand Scholarship exam in a Secondary Principals Leaders Forum was not the dire warning it was being claimed to be by the National Party, says Associate Education spokesman David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says he felt compelled to respond because it was another example of National Party education spokesman Bill English spreading misinformation.

Mr Benson-Pope was responding to a claim Mr English made in Parliament yesterday claiming an influential education forum had given dire advice to the then Schools Minister Trevor Mallard that the 2004 scholarship would be "a shambles".

In fact, there is only one reference in the minutes of the 25 August 2004 education forum that relates to scholarship, and it does not contain a warning or predict "a shambles". Mr Benson-Pope says he has confirmed this with people present at the forum that no such warning or description was ever given.

"Mr English is wrong again. If this is Mr English's smoking gun I rather believe he is trying to blow smoke somewhere quite different," said Mr Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope said he was concerned that what Mr English yesterday described in Parliament was considerably different to the forum minute. Mr English told Parliament: "Is the Minister aware… that group gave the Minister advice last year that scholarship would be a shambles."

Mr Benson-Pope says maybe it is Mr English who needs to be taking a literacy course because no normal reading of the minute could lead a reasonable person to claim that anybody had been warned that a "shambles" had been predicted.


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