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Foss puts foot in it

Written By: - Date published: 1:22 pm, August 22nd, 2008 - 58 comments
Categories: education - Tags: ,

Craig Foss annoyed some students in Napier when he described early childhood teachers as “glorified babysitters”, according to a recent story in the Hawke’s Bay Today (sent in by a bemused reader). He admitted that he used the term “babysitting” yet also tried to argue he was taken out of context. Perhaps he realised his assumptions were not going down too well. Certainly National’s plans to boost the numbers of non-accredited early childhood staff lead me to think they do regard “child-minding” as more of a priority than education of toddlers.

58 comments on “Foss puts foot in it”

  1. Crank 1

    Then again his Party did not sack the local health board in an underhand and murky way so his majority after this statement has gone from “unbelivably freaking ginormous” to “landslide massive”.

  2. Crank. I’ve never heard anyone from hawkes bay bring up the dhb as an issue, let alone a deciding factor in a choice not to vote labour..

  3. Julie 3

    Classic attempt to derail the point of this post and start off the thread with your own talking point Crank.

    Thanks for pointing out Foss’s ridiculousness Dancer, I’ve picked up on your post and blogged about this too now.

  4. Crank 4

    Steve, my understanding is that there is a lot of people in the Hawkes Bay who are still hopping mad about the DHB thing but my take on this is probably as anecdotal as yours.

  5. higherstandard 5


    “I?ve never heard anyone from hawkes bay bring up the dhb as an issue”

    Ha best line I’ve heard all day !

  6. Dancer 6

    Thanks Julie – I think I feel outraged on the “soon to be teachers” behalf as I can’t think of many things as daunting as being surrounded by toddlers 5 days a week, 8+ hours a day, being in charge of growing young minds. Looking after my ones already drives me to distraction! So it sounds like a comment that is really out of touch with what the job and purpose of it really is.

  7. Somehow I feel obliged to apologise on behalf of Foss to the entire teaching profession. As the mum of two kids, I appreciate teachers at all levels very much. That’s a pretty blatant bit off misogyny – but then Foss is only saying what the rest of the Nats are thinking. It’s hard to argue that you value EC teachers while calling for employing less qualified ones.

  8. Smokie 8

    Foss’ comments tell us what he privately believes, and prove he’s been misleading in his public comments. Like the rest of the National Party, Foss can’t be trusted.

    What is with National MPs saying one thing in private and one thing in public. It’s disingenuous and takes New Zealanders for fools. No wonder that One News poll showed no one bloody trusted National.

  9. randal 9

    and I sure am glad I ‘ve got a chance to say a word about the music and the mothers in Nashville.

  10. Billy 10

    Early childhood teachers are stupid, they assume that because they are teaching young children they can get away with being mentally deficient. If you know many early childhood teachers you will know im right

  11. randal 11

    if I know the ones that know you then you will be right for you are mentally deficient but I dont so you are wrong.

  12. yl 12


    you are an idiot, what a stupid thing to say.

    you clearly do not know any ec teachers, and are just basing your views on walking past a child care center and peering in a window.

    You do not have any idea the dedication, knowledge, and planning that goes into being a ec teacher, or any teacher for that matter.

    They are an extremely under valued part of the education sector, and it is idiots like you that talk without knowing what you are talking about who slow down the progress of ec teachers by undermining them.

    get a life you dork.

  13. Smokie 13

    Billy – The only things that’re mentally deficient are National’s private plans for New Zealand. If they really believe that early childhood teachers are mentally deficient, then they should fucking well come out and say so. Stop being such little chicken shits, and say what you really mean.

  14. toms 14

    Crank your “understanding” is bullshit. I come from Napier, as has my entire family since the first Maori saw the first white person and thought, “hello, whats going on here then?”

    The DHB is all about a right wing wannabe oligarchy having a tanty over its cosy cronyism being found out.

    The local rag (run by a self-confessed reactionary and christian fundy) has shamelessly championed the anti-modern, Tolkienesque world view that the local squireocracy goes all misty eyed over, and whipped the locals up into an outrage over the invasion of their little Hobbit shire and the disruption of rule by noblisse oblige that marks when all is right with the world.

    Since then, the plainly lacking revelations that would prove the genteel rural oligarchs right and the outland lesbian-socialist Orcs wrong has led to more than a few to question what they’ve been told.

    Of course, as long as the local paper continues to be the propaganda arm of the Pinochet’s in the Hawkes Bay Club and as long as their local National Party candidate of choice can use his “Clarkson discount” to corruptly work his way around the electoral spending cap it’ll be hard for Labour to win the seat back, but it’ll happen.

  15. Sarah 15

    God what an absolute stupid issue to complain about.

    You really will use anything to attack national won’t you?

    Foss is like some back bencher. Plenty of labour’s back benchers have said and done things stupid.

    You’re all a bunch of labour party hacks who need to get over themselves and stop complaining.

    And don’t talk about transparency and honesty again. That is a complete sham. Labour is equally, if not more, bad.

    Smacking anyone? Paint-gate? Corn-gate? Speed-at-160km-and-hang-your-police-escorts-out-to-dry-gate?


    Thank god for freedom of expresion.

  16. Dancer 16

    ahh Sarah, I don’t think the woman in the article found it nothing. Are you saying she doesn’t have the right to be angry? Plus there’s a genuine issue here about how we value those who educate our children.

    And sure – you might find egs of MPs from other parties who’s said stupid things (can’t think of any recent Labour backbenchers off the top of my head tho’) – in fact the most recent example of someone saying something silly was…that’s right – Bill English, Lockwood Smith and Nick Smith saying one thing in private and another in public. Guess we should be grateful Foss at least said it in public. But then, if he says this in public what would he say in private anyway?

  17. insider 17

    IF you think Foss has put it’s foot in it, what about the independent union the EPMU – suspending someone for daring to stand for ACT without asking for permission.

    Reminds me of all those suppression of free speech of union members quotes aimed at David Farrar when he challenged the EPMU in court

  18. Julie 18

    Sure people say stupid things. But most people aren’t putting themselves up to run the country – when you are doing so then your utterances, particularly when you make them in the course of your job as a Member of Parliament, are open to scrutiny. We should be able to get a picture of what a person thinks about a matter based on what they say about it. Surely?

    Gosh it’s fascinating to see so many righty commenters trying to drag this thread off topic – can’t you talk about the acutal issue in this thread or did no one issue you any talking points on it today?

  19. Draco TB 19

    IF you think Foss has put it’s foot in it, what about the independent union the EPMU – suspending someone for daring to stand for ACT without asking for permission.

    The rules of his employment that he agreed to stated that he had to ask permission first before standing as a politician. He broke contract – do you think any other employer would do nothing if one of their employees broke contract?

    Sorry about the OTness but these idiots are starting to bug me.

  20. darryl 20

    “IF you think Foss has put it’s foot in it, what about the independent union the EPMU – suspending someone for daring to stand for ACT without asking for permission.”

    Actually Insider, this is the perfect opportunity for The Standard to show they are not associated with the EPMU by speaking out against this. The Standard are obviously not ACT supporters but have been vocal about human rights and this is obviously a clear breech of human rights and also a breech of what unions were set up for in the first place.

  21. Sarah 21

    You know what? Screw you.

    Labelling us as idiots just because we offer a different view is unreasonable and shows your true nature as a dodgy-dealing ill-informed labour party hack.

    He brought up a fair point. Yet you label him as an idiot and treat him like he’s some kind of lesser being just because he brings up a view that is contrary to your own.

    And what kind of contract is the Union putting forward in the first place if an employee is not allowed to voice their own opinion and own political view, and must instead follow line with the view put forward by the establishment without wavering. It really shows how prejudicial and biased these sort of unions are.

    Sure he made a mistake and didn’t let his employees know that he was running for the ACT party (and there are still dubious circumstances surrounding this — he claims that they told him from the outset that they would fire him if he tried to run for the Act party, but still. Shouldn’t a person have a right to run for whatever political party they want and stand up for their own view without being fired?

    Surely the members of this blog will stand up for the rights of this man like they havre done for the rights of all other workers throughout this blog’s history?

  22. The comments by Foss (if true) were unwise. Surely the nats have learnt by now that there will be vermin hiding under every table with a 10 buck dictaphone every time they speak.
    On the other topic that some threadjacker brought up.
    This is a very bad look for the epmu and an embarrassing one for some posters here. It must be difficult to decide whether to jump in and support your employer or man up and support a fellow employees human rights. it will be interesting to see which side of the morality fence some of you fall.

  23. sweetd 23

    Draco, EMPU contracts do not superseed the Human Rights legislation. So, question for you, do you support the Union or the Human Rights law? Rock and hard place for lefties.

  24. sweetd 24

    Also, makes me think the EMPU is just an extension of the Labour Party, and thus should not be able to register as a third party for election purposes. Afetr all, it seems like you can you can stand for any party you like at the EMPU as long as it is Labour.

    Question to the EMPU guys; how many EMPU staff have stood for another party other than Labour?

  25. There is doubt that early childhood education and education throughout primary and high school is at an all time low, there seems to be a system that doesn’t recognize the children that may be of higher intelligence than the rest, basically the smart kids are told to dumb down.

  26. monkey-boy 26

    I sugggested on kiwiblog that the EPMU would have a different view of Tan were he standing for Labour, and was informed that I was guilty of speculation. Here is my reponse to that allegation: –
    “You should stick to debating on facts rather then speculating on something with no base.’

    yes yl, and again I apologise for that assumption.

    However, I have to suggest that we are living in times when, if it is politically expedient, our political representatives have been known to re-invent themselves, and go against prior statements when the occasion demands it, so although I am speculating, I don’t think it is too long a bow to draw.

    Here are some other views on record, from sources you may trust more than ickle me;

    “You also forget the Clare Curran was the PR force behind the EPMU’s fair share campaign and still has very good links with the movement. Anyone who knew anything about how Labour and the unions work would know that Curran would have had the EPMU’s backing if her candidacy was serious.’ (Tane – kiwiblog 30th october 2007)

    ‘ see EPMU President Don Pryde has thrown his hat in the ring for the Dunedin South seat and has the full backing of his union. ‘ (Irish Bill The Standard Oct. 30th 2007)

    “Asked about whether he had discussed supporting Mr Pryde with party president Mike Williams, Mr Little said he had met to talk about the party rejuvenation in general and spoke on the need for new candidates.’ (Herald Oct 31st, 2007)

    On the other hand it is that case that Andrew Little has indicated that when he goes for Labour Party President/ ‘future’ PM job(?) he will ‘step down’ from the EPMU.

    So at least Little is showing a personal consistency. But, it is not too long bow a draw to suggest that the EPMU would ‘bless’ a prospective candidate for Labour were it expedient to do so.

    Now, that brings us to the sticky issue of consistency, and whether Tan has been treated differently by the EPMU, than say Curren, Pryde etc purely on the basis of the political views he has chosen to espouse. You may argue that his standing for ACT was without permission, therefore in breach of his contract, but if the EPMU seriously negotiates on behalf of its workers on the basis that the employer gets ‘carte-blanche’ to choose their employees’ ‘rights’ then it is about as useful as a union, as tits are on a snake.

  27. monkey-boy 27

    “You should stick to debating on facts rather then speculating on something with no base.’

    yes yl, and again I apologise for that assumption.

    However, I have to suggest that we are living in times when, if it is politically expedient, our political representatives have been known to re-invent themselves, and go against prior statements when the occasion demands it, so although I am speculating, I don’t think it is too long a bow to draw.

    Here are some facts;

    “You also forget the Clare Curran was the PR force behind the EPMU’s fair share campaign and still has very good links with the movement. Anyone who knew anything about how Labour and the unions work would know that Curran would have had the EPMU’s backing if her candidacy was serious.’ (Tane – kiwiblog 30th october 2007)

    ‘ see EPMU President Don Pryde has thrown his hat in the ring for the Dunedin South seat and has the full backing of his union. ‘ (Irish Bill The Standard Oct. 30th 2007)

    “Asked about whether he had discussed supporting Mr Pryde with party president Mike Williams, Mr Little said he had met to talk about the party rejuvenation in general and spoke on the need for new candidates.’ (Herald Oct 31st, 2007)

    On the other hand it is that case that Andrew Little has indicated taht when he goes for Labour Party President/ pM job(?) he will ‘step down’ from the EPMU.
    So on the case in fact, perhaps it is a long-bow to draw given that Little is showing a personal consistency. But, it is not too long bow a draw to suggest that the EPMU would ‘bless’ a prospective candidate for Labour were it expedient to do so.

  28. monkey-boy 28

    interesting – twice I have posted with historical evidence that the EPMU and even The Standard’s editorial team does support Labour candidates that originated from the EPMU and twice nothing has shown up on the page. If my posts are banned or disallowed, it would be nice for you to at least inform me, then I will not have to waste my time trying would I?

    [lprent: Both wound up in the spam trap. I cannot see exactly why – perhaps someone on another site has been tossing your messages into spam? So they got sent through when I got around to looking at the site. Given a choice between having occasional messages in spam and having to clean a large number of messages each day that get through recaptha… ]

  29. Steven 29

    What an absolute beat-up. If that’s the best this blog can come up with on a Friday afternoon then it’s safe to assume that the Labour Party and the Greenies are in deep trouble for the election, whenever that may be. I’m sensing a massive bribe on the way and I can’t wait to hear what’s being cooked up to sway the voters.

  30. Tim Ellis 30

    The EPMU are not part of the Labour Party Barnsley. They are a separate legal entity. They don’t meet the thresh-hold for using political grounds to exclude a person from employment.

    I find it interesting that some people say the fact that Shawn Tan agreed to this clause in his agreement means that he should stick by it. Are these the same people who would argue that an employment agreement where both parties agreed to something that is below the minimum wage, would be oppressive and unfair on the employee?

    The only issue for the EPMU is whether somebody can do their job. If Shawn Tan is spending all his time away from his workplace campaigning, or is campaigning using EPMU facilities, then fair enough, he should face disciplinary action. But there’s no evidence of that. He’s just been named as a candidate. Having to go and inform your boss that you’re standing as a political candidate beforehand is outrageous. It’s like having to go and inform your boss beforehand that you’re a lesbian, and asking their permission.

    There are lots of lawyers working in the EPMU. I don’t think they honestly believe that somebody can’t represent two different points of view. Your job representing employees in employment disputes isn’t undermined just because you’re a member of a political party that is against collective bargaining. I can’t see how the EPMU can get away with this. I’m not an Act party supporter, and I think Shawn Tan is probably a bit of a weirdo for switching from the Greens to Act in such a short time, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do his job properly.

  31. randal 31

    it looks like the tory provocateurs do not have the capacity to stick to the point which in this case is the idiotic foss calling early childhood teachers glorified babysitters. any connection between this assertion and the rules of the EPMU is contingent on being a glorified upstart tory looking to cause trouble by confabulating the argument into a grab bag of issues the tories care to insert to distract the voters from considering Mr Foss’s ludicrous and demeaning statements

  32. dave 32

    The rules of [Tan’s] employment that he agreed to stated that he had to ask permission first before standing as a politician. He broke contract – do you think any other employer would do nothing if one of their employees broke contract?
    Conversely, do you think an employee should sit and let his employer breach Human Rights legislation. His employer told him that if he was going to stand for ACT he should resign, implying that if he asked for permission, it would not be granted. It’s a shame he did not get that in writing because Andrew Little has admitted on Newstalk ZB that Mr Tan’s political party of choice is a factor.

    Somebody who wants to seek public office for a party whose philosophies and policies and interests are directly contrary to the interests of the union’s members would obviously be foolish to say that that would not have a bearing on any application for approval.

    Political opinion is a prohibited ground of discrimination, so even if Tan had tossed up whether to ask permission, he was unlawfully discriminated against even before he made the decision not to seek official permission.

  33. monkey-boy 33

    thankyou for the reply – given my own posts about ‘paranoia’ it is a bit rich coming from me to accuse you of censorship. I apologise.
    WOuld you please delete the second duplicate. And may I add this take on the Tan thing?
    I recently posted on the EPMU ‘Ticklist’. As I then wrote:
    “These calls to protect workers’ rights are laudable, I personally would endorse and support the following: “Wages Policy”, “A meaningful right to be in a union”, “Right to be treated fairly and with dignity”, “Right to a safe and healthy workplace”, “Decent minimum entitlements”, “Committment to ongoing training and learning”. ”
    The ‘Right to be Treated Fairly and with Dignity’? As much as I would probably wish to ‘suspend’ Tan myself, were I in the EPMU’s shoes, that does not mean that I should be able to. The EPMU appear to be a ‘Law unto themselves’. They ‘warmly endorse’ candidates who stand for Labour, but drum the poor sap who stands for ACT out of his job?
    Suspending Tan was a stupid reaction, borne of the above-mentioned arrogance that comes with thinking they are the supreme moral arbiters of what constitutes ‘worker’s rights’. Is Tan being treated ‘fairly and with dignity’ by the EPMU?
    You decide.
    Lee – monkey with typewriter

  34. higherstandard 34

    It’d be nice to have Tane and IB’s input on this.

  35. monkey-boy 35

    randal – too many big words mate.
    Since when did defending the BoRA make you a ‘Tory provacateur’? – oh yes, during the SC on the EFA, I remember now….

    Are we seeing a pattern emerging?

  36. monkey-boy 36

    HS see my above post

  37. randal 37

    too many big words mate…hey I am not your mate and do you or do you not own a dictionary. and it is it beyond your capacity to use it or do you prefer a kneejerk response to everything rather than calm consideration and rational deliberation?

  38. monkey-boy 38

    ok randal I stand corrected. I do have a tendency towards the eschatological when it comes to the whittling away of our Rights. Many apologies. You are right. I don’t own a dictionary, I just tend to widen my vocabulary by a kind of osmosis, if you like. have a look at my latest post in ‘Monkeys with Typewriters’ I thought that that was relatively rational and calm take on the subject.

  39. higherstandard 39

    randal I though you were busy starting another party for morons so NZ First voters would have another option ?

  40. randal 40

    higher standard all I have to say to you is a fool can ask more questions that a wise man can answer

  41. dave 41

    looks like the tory provocateurs do not have the capacity to stick to the point

    Well Done Randal, I guess they are trying to express the values and principles that underpin the broad labour movement , y’know, values such as human rights, which obviously the EPMU don’t share

    check this blogs About:
    It’d be fair to say that all of us share a commitment to the values and principles that underpin the broad labour movement and we hope that perspective will come through strongly as you read the blog.

    Its starting to come through in the comments, if not the posts.

  42. Draco TB 42

    Political opinion is a prohibited ground of discrimination,

    Why, so it is. But imagine this conversation:

    Shaun Sorry Rodney, can’t come to the caucus meeting today as I have a high level meeting at the union to attend.
    Rodney Oh?
    Shaun Yeah, we’re going to discuss the unions opposition to the proposed bill we just announced and the pamphlets that we’ll be handing out.
    Rodney Sounds interesting, let us know about it will you?
    Shaun Yeah, sure. I’ll give all the details at the meeting tomorrow as well as copies of the pamphlet if I can get hold of some. Gota go, Cya.
    Rodney Cya

    It’s not a human rights issue but a conflict of interests issue.

  43. randal 43

    well if that is the case dave start a thread about it…dont hijack someoneelses point of view and then complain because you are held up because you have nothing to say for yourself except writing a whole lot of rubbish about nothing

  44. dave 44

    Randal I cant start a thread here as its not my blog you dork. Piss off if you have nothing worthwhile to say or get your own blog as others of us have. Draco, it is a human rights issue as his employer didnt want him to have a choice as to whether he can stay at work and be involved in Act in his own time. The conflict of interests issue hasn’t arisen yet and in any case conflicts of issue is not a prohibited ground of discrimination, whereas expressing political opinions is.

  45. randal 45

    dave none of that made any sense whatsoever. SPAM 101.

  46. dave 46

    to others it would, but not to you, as you appear to lack basic comprehension skills. And not for the first time either.

  47. randal 47

    dave you are a troll. crawl back in your hole till you have somethng to say that does not involve an ad hominem argument or a mouthfull of nonsense put out to confuse people and waste their time..ciao

  48. Draco TB 48

    Dave, all that’s happened so far is that he broke a part of his employment contract put in there to, apparently, protect against such conflicts of interest as has now arisen with him becoming a high ranking member of ACT.

  49. randal 49

    no member of act is high ranking…they are all low type people.

  50. Wow, a hole day without one of the Standardistas putting up a post and I miss them already.

  51. Julie 51

    When I saw this thread had 50 comments I thought, great, people will have been talking about early childhood education as a profession, the stupid comments Foss made, the sexism underlying them, etc.

    Sadly I see that is not the case. Guess Mr Foss is pretty undefensible then?

    And barnsleybill I think the “vermin” with the tape recorder in this case are in fact the students that Mr Foss went to see and spoke directly to, no entrapment necessary (not that I think the recordings were entrapment anyway). I don’t think anyone has made any allegation that the students were politically motivated members of another party, but rather that they were surprised and annoyed to have their profession denigrated by an MP.

  52. Tane 52

    Hey HS, sorry I’ve just caught up with this thread. I’m friends with a lot of people who know Tan personally so I’d rather not comment on his employment issues, except to say I’m incredibly disappointed with his actions.

    All I’m seeing on this thread is a lot of misinformed commentary from people on the right who don’t know the full facts of the situation. Here’s a hint: responsible employers don’t go running to the media about their employment disagreements, opportunisitic political aspirants do.

  53. Are early childhood workers allowed to vote against the vile Miss Clark and her Absolute Power regime?

  54. randal 54

    stand for parliament d4juice and see how many votes you get.

  55. Hook yourself up to a lie detector randal and watch the lights go out across New Zealand you stupid nitwit cretin.

  56. higherstandard 56


    Can you save all of Randal’s and D4J’s comments at the very least there’s a short novella there, it’s like watching an old rerun of the odd couple – brilliant stuff.

  57. A Beautiful Distance 57

    How did this thread entwine itself in two issues?

    The remark of Mr Foss, if accurately reported, is insulting to early-childhood teachers and that’s all it is. Any suggestion that his view is representative of anyone else is fatuous. He’s a clown, FOSS is a four letter “F” word, see, you can learn things at kindergarten!

    The other issue, (employer permission for standing in an election) is pivotted on the terms of Mr Tan’s employment. It is a legal issue, not a political or human rights issue. Let the court deal with it. Personal and political opinions have nothing to do with it.

  58. Tim Ellis 58

    LP I don’t know if this feature exists, but it would be great to have it in the comments section and would save a lot of moderation time, and d4j and randal prove its worth. If you could have a karma feature like on kiwiblog, and a setting to mute the comments that fall below a karma level, like they have on youtube, then we wouldn’t have to waste time reading mindless trash from the likes of randal and d4j that doesn’t add anything to the debate. Inflammatory comments from both sides would self-moderate, too–people would be less likely to write inflammatory comments if their karma drops so low that nobody reads what they say.

    I don’t know if this kind of feature exists but if it does it would be great to integrate with this blog and knock out some of the childish behaviour.

    [lprent: I’ve thought about it. It doesn’t prevent outbreaks of stupid comments, it operates after the fact. The other factor is that it allows the formation of a self-perpetuating comment cabal. Effectively it rewards forming informal coalitions with others to drive people out. I could think of about 10 ways that I could use a system like that to do interesting things.

    To comment on here is a privilege not a right and subject to a perception by the moderators of reasonable behavior. The enforcement of the standards of behavior is fairly lax – most of the time we warn first on the offending comment(s). But when they are enforced, they tend toward the draconian.

    It is mildly arbitrary and not subject to appeal. That ensures that there is no lawyering introducing its own level of flames.

    In Rob’s case the real problem wasn’t what he was saying was so far off. It was that he was consistently inaccurate and appeared to seldom read the responses to his previous comments, either by moderators, or by other commentators. So why was he commenting at all ?

    Effectively he was writing a set of lines without interacting. To me that smacks of graffiti mindset. It was also taking too much of everyones times. My previous actions didn’t cause a sufficient change in behaviour – for instance putting his remarks into moderation.

    Eventually I got annoyed and banned him for a week for being a bloody nuisance to me. That is the least time I could do. But that is his last warning. ]

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