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Education Ministry employee must be disciplined

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

17 August 2005

Education Ministry employee must be disciplined

National Party Education spokesman Bill English has laid a complaint with the Secretary for Education after a Ministry of Education employee advised early childhood teachers to vote for Labour.

The teachers were attending a professional development seminar in Wellington relating to Labour's controversial changes to early childhood education.

"The Ministry of Education has admitted that this employee gave a presentation, complete with PowerPoint, advising 200 teachers to vote for Labour. The Ministry must now take action - anything less will be seen as tacit support for the employee's remarks," says Mr English.

"Labour's early childhood policy of favouring community-owned centres discriminates against thousands of parents and violates their right to decide what is best for their children.

"It is controversial policy that National opposes. After the election, the Ministry of Education will be required to dismantle Labour's policy and implement National's, which will see the cost of childcare tax deductible, irrespective of provider.

"Governments change and, for that reason, it is essential that the civil service remains impartial.

"The actions of this Ministry employee fly in the face of a warning from the State Services Commissioner, in his annual report, that civil servants must be vigilant in minding their political manners in an election year.

"This is an outrageous abuse of public resources and is completely inappropriate for an employee of an agency that is required to be politically neutral.

"As Labour President Mike Williams has said, Labour has been very good to the civil service, but the civil service cannot be seen to be politically biased. Disciplinary action over this breach of the civil service code will send a clear signal to every civil servant that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated," says Mr English.

ENDS

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