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Labour - $2 billion, too late

Hon Bill English
National Party Education Spokesman
18 July 2005

Labour - $2 billion, too late

National Party Education spokesman Bill English says Labour has today confirmed the worst kept secret in the education sector - its tertiary strategy has been a $2 billion failure.

"That's how much they have wasted on low-quality courses. And their solution will only make it worse.

"While Labour will cut funding to some courses, it will redirect those savings into a massive new $177 million slush fund to spend on bureaucrats, rather than students and courses.

"In fact, polytechs won't even have to offer an extra course or teach another student to get money from Labour's slush fund. At least in the past they had to offer some sort of course. Now the polytechs just need to complain and keep the Minister happy. Labour's slush fund invites corruption where it favours its mates and forgets the students.

"No money is flowing to higher quality courses - it's just a lolly scramble. Labour has the ridiculous idea that offering courses and teaching students is too controversial, so Labour will just give the money out for nothing.

"Polytechs have become bloated on easy money and Labour intends to make it easier by cutting out students and courses, but the solution is worse than the problem. It would appear that the slush fund is intended to keep polytechs quiet until the election."

Mr English says he was surprised to see all the education bureaucrats had survived.

"Not one person has lost their job despite $2 billion of wasted public money. There is no accountability and no care with public money. All the people who caused this problem are still in place, costing millions. It's a disgrace.

"Today's changes amount to nothing more than shifting the deckchairs around on the Titanic.

"National believes the public want to pay for courses and students. We will work to fix the long-term damage to polytechs that has been caused by Labour's culture of waste and low expectations. The rebuilding of regional polytechs will take time but National is committed to ensuring it happens and that they remain viable."

Mr English says the whole sector needs a serious overhaul to ensure funding is targeted to areas of priority and quality education.


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