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Collins' Comments - 4 September 2006

Collins' Comments

Judith Collins Clevedon MP 4 September 2006

Flat Bush residents are not happy with being told what schools they will receive. The Government is planning to spend $237 million on seven new schools in the Flat Bush area of the Clevedon electorate. The issue for Flat Bush residents is that having been told by the Government that their views would be taken into account and that the community would be properly consulted, what has happened is that the Minister, Steve Maharey, has ignored the views and ideas from the community. Two of the proposed schools will be junior high schools catering for Years 7 to 10 (Form 1-4). The community’s concerns with the junior high concept were expressed in the consultation report, but their doubts were overlooked by the Government. Mr Maharey said they will “provide the schools the community wants”, but has not changed any plans for the seven schools, despite public protest.

Flat Bush is a dramatically changing area with a huge population increase. I would have expected the Government to have listened to the concerns of residents directly affected by the significant changes. Many residents are anxious about the amount of traffic and noise resulting from the proposed Jeffs Rd Campus, which could cater for 4,000 students. Another concern is the introduction of junior high schools rather than building secondary schools. The point here is that if the government says it is going to consult with constituents in the Clevedon electorate, then we should expect them to do a little more than simply pay lip service, and ignore the expressed concerns.

It’s convenient the Government is unable to provide figures for the number of people who have been helped into jobs through its ‘Job Plus’ scheme. The programme provides subsidies to employers who hire beneficiaries. It’s irresponsible that the Government has spent $295 million of taxpayer money on a programme with no accountability for that money. The Minister can’t tell me how many people returned to a benefit within 12 or 18 months of a Job Plus placement. Minister for Social Development and Employment, David Benson-Pope, said providing that information “requires a significant amount of manual collation,” and he is not prepared to instruct officials to do that. Taxpayers have the right to know where their dollars are going, especially a quarter of a billion dollars.

As predicted, changes have been made at the Electricity Commission. Electricity Commissioner, Roy Hemmingway, who seemed to me able to listen, consider and act in a non-partisan manner over the Transpower giant pylons, has not been reappointed to the position of Chairman of the commission. That critical position has gone instead to former Labour Minister, Stan Roger, lately a director of the Transpower Board. The Labour/NZ First government has signaled its wish to charge ahead with new pylons while ignoring the fact that it has no plans for new power generation to be carried by the giant pylons. It all seems very Alice in Wonderland to me.

Labour and its mates should pay back the money. When Helen Clark decided to spend Parliamentary money on election expenses, Labour knew that they were stealing the money. They had been warned and they chose to ignore that warning. 81% of those polled in the Herald/Digipoll last week said Labour and Co. should pay it back.

After the 2002 election, spending rules were changed by a multiparty agreement that included Labour and its allies. Labour clearly couldn’t trust in the fact that it had already put $15million of taxpayers’ money into advertising its middle class welfare programme, Working for Families, got the jitters over the polls, stole your money and the election.


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