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Richard Worth - NewsWorthy - No. 233

Richard Worth - NewsWorthy

23 November 2007 - No. 233

Sucky spelln rools, ok?
The Labour-led Government’s tolerance of plummeting literacy standards has sunk to a new low after revelations that plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying apprentices do not have to meet any spelling or writing standards when taking exams for plumbing registration.

The New Zealand Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board states in its ‘Examination Process’ website that: ‘Candidates were advised that writing standards and spelling do not have an impact on the marking by markers who have a minimum of 25 years experience in the industry.’

What chance do plumbers of tomorrow have if they are relying on red and blue knobs to distinguish hot and cold? How can these young people function, let alone excel, in a business without basic literacy?

What is worse is that the pass rate for these exams is itself plummeting. Despite not having to be able to read and write, only 26% of the 196 plumbers who sat the exam passed – that compares to 37% last year. Gasfitting is almost as bad, with only 49% getting registration, compared to 66% in 2006.

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the Government has turned a blind eye to literacy standards for eight years, even allowing text language to be acceptable spelling in NCEA exams.

It is not acceptable that one in five students leave school without the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to succeed.

Literacy should be a cornerstone of education policy. Sadly, it appears to be a millstone.

As Pink Floyd sang in 1979 “we don’t need no education”.

The Entrepreneur of the Year
One of the great international competitions held each year in Monaco is the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Ernst & Young has recently announced the New Zealand winner as Ashley Berrysmith of New Zealand Fresh Cuts Limited.

What was once the domain of rabbits, kaftan wearers and dietary faddists has, under the cultivation of Ashley Berrysmith, become very good business. Good both for the balance sheet and the dietary well being of the many thousands who now crunch their way through his array of fresh, wholesome fare.

Under various brand incarnations dating back to the original company launch in 1980, Ashley Berrysmith has helped change the taste buds of New Zealanders who now relish the array of fresh sprouts, salad greens, vegetable mixes, baby peeled carrots and hemp seed oil he produces.

The focus of the company extends beyond supply to the local market. The company is also capitalising on export successes in Singapore and Hong Kong. It is also looking to take its products out of this world through a project involving NASA. The aim is to grow fresh greens on their space station missions.

As Ernst & Young noted “That's one tiny lettuce for NASA, one giant leap for the mung bean sprout pioneer”.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely
So said Lord Acton in an 1887 letter to Bishop Creighton.

In the face of adverse polls, the Government seeks to cling to office by legislative entrenchment of electoral finance provisions.

It appears wholly undeterred by widespread media and public concern.

Parliament now faces extended debate on the Electoral Finance Bill.

There are legitimate and continuing concerns about:

• The length of the election period;

• continuing uncertainty about the definition of an election advertisement, and the discouraging effect this will have on participation in democracy;

• the overbearing regime that third parties are subjected to;

• the blanket exemption for MPs;

• the partisan process the bill has been through.

National remains committed to repealing the Bill if the legislation passes.

Political Quote of the Week

"Conversation would be vastly improved by the constant use of four simple words: I do not know." Andre Maurois - French biographer, novelist, and essayist.

Dr Richard Worth
National Party MP

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