Written By: - Date published: 11:23 pm, February 17th, 2010 - 9 comments
Categories: labour, national, Parliament, welfare - Tags: anne tolley, annette king, bill english, craig foss, national standards, paula bennett, trevor mallard, whanau ora
Sometimes it is hard to decide which is worse: Do Nothing John Key flouncing around the country while thousands of Kiwis lose their jobs, the Joyce cabal pushing their dinosaur hard-right economic philosophy (tax cuts! roads! tax cuts!), or the rest of them who don’t seem to have two brain cells to rub together.
Labour got stuck into that last set yesterday in the House, and it was a pleasure to watch. Trevor Mallard took Anne Tolley to the cleaners:
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does she still claim to fully understand the national standards system, and, in particular, does she fully understand inter-school moderation of her literacy standards?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Yes.
Having set Tolley up, Mallard went to for the kill:
Hon Trevor Mallard: In light of her reply to my second to last supplementary question, how does the inter-school moderation of her literacy standards work?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I am sorry, but I cannotâ€”
Mr SPEAKER: I think it was perfectly fair. The Minister did not hear the question. I ask the Hon Trevor Mallard to repeat it.
Hon Trevor Mallard: In light of her answer to my second to last supplementary question, how does her system of inter-school moderation of her literacy standards work?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: It is not ‘my’ method of inter-school moderation that is at stake here. What we have put in place to examine the implementation and monitor the implementation of the national standards over the next several years, to be carried out by the Ministry of Education, is a contract that will evaluate and monitor the implementation, including between-school differences if there are any. Also, the Education Review Office will have direct responsibility for examining the basis on which teachers are making their judgments. The Opposition members cannot have it both ways. On the one hand they argue that if we use assessment we run the risk of teachers teaching to the test; the minute that we allow teachers to use their judgment and their relationship with the students, then the members opposite start worrying about inter-school moderation. We want to have professional judgments from professional teachers about the progress that students are making against the standards. This Government is determined to address the one in five students whom the previous Government left to fail in our education system.
The Labour benches were howling with laughter by this stage, and that’s when Mallard did something really clever. He asked the same question again. Not only did Tolley still not no what her inter-school moderation was, she couldn’t remember what she had just said:
Hon Trevor Mallard: Can the Minister now explain to the House how the inter-school moderation of literacy standards will work?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I take you back to the primary question. I have engaged with and tried to answer the member, but the primary question was about recent announcements that I have made. I have made no recent announcements on inter-school moderation….
…. Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I am perfectly happy to answer; I just really wanted to point out that we were heading off down a different track from the primary question. I say to the member he is concerned about inter-school moderation, but, actually, the national standards, at their heart, are to address inter-school moderation. Currently a large number of assessment tools are used by schools, and no one standard applies across them. That is what national standards are. So the existing assessment tools will remain in place, and the national standards will go right across all those tools, so that it will not matter which school a child goes to, or which assessment tool a particular school uses, because there will be a standard that is national. That is the essence of national standards, so the inter-school moderation is exactly that. Parents will know, whichever school their children attendâ€”
Hon Trevor Mallard: This is embarrassing.
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Well, it just shows that you do not understandâ€”[Interruption] It just shows that you do not understand what national standards areâ€”
Mr SPEAKER: The Speaker is on his feet, and as a former Minister of Education, the Speaker might understand. The Minister should not be saying ‘you do not understand’. I think we have heard a sufficient answer.
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I should have said that the Opposition members, who continue to put misinformation out into the community about what national standards are, do not understand. It is not a new test; it is not a new assessment tool. It is a common standard across them.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I now ask the Minister not how national standards will work and not about the fact that there is going to be moderation, but how will that moderation work?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I say to the member that I give him the same answer. It is exactly as I have explained it. That is how it will work. If the member would like to come and have a briefing, I am quite prepared to provide it.
Tolley was left in complete tatters. And then Annette King rose to ask questions to Paula Bennett:
ANNETTE KING(Deputy Leaderâ€”Labour) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What work, if any, has she undertaken to extend WhÄnau Ora to all New Zealanders?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : I can inform the member that decisions are yet to be made, and that we are expecting announcements to be made as part of Budget 2010.
Hon Annette King: Does she agree that WhÄnau Ora is a cross-sectoral, whole-of-Government concept that uses a structured process of Government agencies and community organisations working together to achieve better education, housing, health, and social outcomes for families, in which both Government and non-governmental and community organisations will participate; if not, why not?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes.
Hon Annette King: Is she aware that the description I have just given is that of the Strengthening Families programme, which has existed for 6 years, has been evaluated, and is operating effectively? Why are we going through the pretence of saying to New Zealanders that the Government has a new programme for vulnerable families, and wasting time and money pulling the wool over their eyes?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: We have to wonder why Labour has an issue with MÄori coming up with solutions to their own problems….
…Hon Annette King: Does she still insist that it is the media’s fault that no one knows the definition of ‘whÄnau ora’ even though her own ministry’s website has no clear definition, and even though she thinks it is one thing, Minister Turia and the MÄori Party think it is another, and the Prime Minister thinks it is a waterbed?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: No, I do not. I think that it is kind of clear, and that it is Labour that is having issues. We could go back to closing the gaps and ‘reducing inequalities’. I just don’t understand Labour’s issue with MÄori coming up with their own solutions to their own issues in their own communities, and coming up with stuff that really works. It is because it is not Wellington-driven.
Another minister with no idea what Whanau Ora is. Still at least she’s not showing she can’t count too, like Bill English:
Craig Foss: What reports has he seen on the need for reform after many years of economic underperformance in New Zealand?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: It has become clear that since 2005 the economy has been performing worse than was thought, after the Department of Statistics just produced revised growth figures showing that from 2005 to 2008 the economy grew at less than 1 percent per year.
1.6%, mate. And what’s your record? Oh yeah, -2.2%. Labour, having eviscerated Tolley and Bennett in one day, needs to take English to task on his dodgy maths before his lie becomes accepted truth.