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Govt tries to silence dissent

Written By: - Date published: 9:32 am, December 5th, 2009 - 32 comments
Categories: democratic participation, national/act government - Tags:

The Government, stung by criticism of its inept education policies, is trying to silence teachers. Their plan is to make teachers, principals, and Board of Trustee members subject to the public service code of conduct. The, which currently applies only to people in the core public service (the ones the Right calls bureaucrats) bars people from making public political statements like openly endorsing or opposing a particular party or policy.

Now, it’s fair enough that core public servants can’t be involved in politics. They are often privy to confidential government decision-making and they have to advise the government. Maintaining neutrality is important in those roles for the government to have confidence in the professionalism of the public service and the public to have confidence the public service isn’t captured by the government but, rather, is giving free and frank advice.

That argument just doesn’t apply to teachers and Board of Trustee members and never has. They aren’t part of the government’s policy formation, their job is to teach and they are often the best placed people to tell us whether policies are working or not. What next? Will doctors and nurses be barred from commenting on health policy? It’s draconian and it speaks to a government that is afraid of having an honest debate.

This attempt to muzzle teachers is probably in breach of the Bill of Rights, which guarantees political freedom and freedom of speech except in very limited circumstances where there is a good reason to override those freedoms.

It’s clear why National is doing this. It has the fingerprints of Tony Ryall all over it. National’s education policy has been disaster after disaster – ACE cuts, teacher:pupil ratio worsened, uni fees, national standards. Anne Tolley is arguably the worst minister of a bad bunch and it shows. But rather than actually try to put good policies in place and get a competent minister, National’s response is to try to silence the critics.

It’s disgraceful and it won’t succeed.

32 comments on “Govt tries to silence dissent ”

  1. kelsey 1

    So a quick review of the linked article:

    The State Services Commission wants to gag principals and teachers from criticising the Government.

    Right, so it’s the SSC, not the government directly. Not huge, but go on…

    The code, which covers government departments and district health boards, states that it is unacceptable for employees to comment on government policy if it constitutes a “personal attack” on a minister, work colleagues or other state servants.

    So it already covers DHBs, and is only about personal attacks not comments on policy, so let’s see what Anne Tolley has to say:

    But in a show of camaraderie, Education Minister Anne Tolley has thrown her support behind the unions. It is understood she contacted State Services Minister Tony Ryall to get the process stopped.

    So basically, the entire post is wrong

    • lprent 1.1

      Yeah right….

      1. When the process is stopped I’ll get interested.
      2. What is more interesting is how the process got started. For understanding that you just need to look at Tony Ryall.

  2. TightyRighty 2

    Um, didn’t your great mate, Anne Tolley, come out and say this was not on?

    at least this government can handle dissent. unlike the “tired, hectoring and corrupt” former government. gotta love Hooton.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Yes, she did but not because she doesn’t support the move:

      Mrs Tolley said if schools and boards were added to the code, it would not stop them from speaking out. “To claim the code of conduct has anything to do with muzzling schools and their opinions on any subject is ludicrous.”

      It was because she was being really stupid again in thinking that the rules wouldn’t apply to teachers once the rules had been applied to the teachers.

    • lprent 2.2

      Do you have a link? All I can see is stuff saying that this is proceeding…

      at least this government can handle dissent.

      Just off the top of my head…

      • Paula Bennett is still in front of the privacy commissoner for releasing private information to stifle dissent.
      • Tony Ryall has been sacking any DHB board member who he thinks might disagree with him.
      • Rodney Hide has had councils trying to gag employees talking about super city implications.
      • Brownlee has been making legislation avoid select committees. Has ANY legislation not passed the house under urgency in many of its stages.

      Sounds to me like this government is terrified of hearing opinions that they don’t like.

      And you! You seem to live with your head firmly stuffed up your arse so you can maintain a closed loop between the crap you want to consume and what you ingest. I suppose it keeps you firmly in 2008 and prevents contamination with reality.

      • TightyRighty 2.2.1

        oh lprent, vulgarity is not your strong point.

        much as you might like to believe that this government is the worst kind of all evils, evil wrapped up in niceness, your wrong. paula bennett quite rightly released the benny’s details. it didn’t stifle dissent, it added perspective. annette king is the reason dhb board members have to be sacked and rodney hide at least owned up to his misspending, unlike the fucking idiot carter, who cares if your gay? so why don’t you pull the finger you had up your date and is now in your nose out. it’s affecting your thinking as you obviously have shit for brains.

        • lprent 2.2.1.1

          I see that you’re avoiding the substance of what I pointed out. It is what I expected from a conservative in a catatonic state contemplating the myths of the past and avoiding the future. The ‘vulgarity’ was there to drag your attention away from your womb fetish. Looks like it partially succeeded.

          So why is Paula under investigation from the privacy commissioner?
          Because she asked for details that she had no right to access.

          Why doesn’t Tony Ryall just wait until the board members terms come up?
          Because he doesn’t want people who know what they’re talking about to point out that he is an ignorant jerk who doesn’t have any idea about what he is doing.

          I notice that you avoided talking about Rodney in his role as Local Government. Too ashamed of his performance perhaps?

          Same for Brownlee? He is abusing the parliamentary process because he knows that the governments bills don’t look good if they’re examined closely.

          This is a government that is appalling bad at wanting public dissent. They are crushing it any way that they can.

          But you prefer living in the past. It is always amazing to see someone so wedded to their faith that they refuse to live in reality. But it seems to describe you quite well. But I can assure you that the present and future are more fun than the sewer myths of the past. Perhaps you should try them.

          BTW: Interesting to note that as usual you scratch a conservative and find a homophobic/racial/gender bigot. I suppose the grooves get worn deep when you refuse to think.

          • TightyRighty 2.2.1.1.1

            i noticed you avoid any mention of chris carter when talking about stifling dissent. playing the gay card because people are asking you tough questions on your travel spending. at least the members of this government front up when people call them out, unlike the opposition, if you could even call them that. the last government is still an unfortunate recent memory. one with a very long one too, still calling national out for things done in 98′ when it’s two thousand and fucking seven. im not wedded to the national party any more, but posters at the standard should at least get there facts straight before mouthing off. anne tolley stood up for the teachers, you didn’t like the fact that someone had pointed it out so thought about how you could save eddie’s post. shit for brains.

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.1.1

              And again you’re avoiding my questions of where the government is stifling dissent.

              Is this avoidance behaviour because you’re too stupid to understand what you’re talking about, or haven’t kept up with current affairs, or just don’t want to talk about the track record of this government on stifling dissent.

              Apart from your obvious homophobia. What does Carter have to do with stifling dissent by the government – which is what the post was about.

              Face it – you are just pathetic at actually arguing. All you can do is denigrate. Hell you’re pathetic even at that.

          • TightyRighty 2.2.1.1.2

            because i mention chris carter and his travel spending im a homophobe? always trying to stifle dissent aren’t you. if you don’t like me bringing things up, attack the message shit for brains. calling me a homophobe? why? a racist? why? a gender bigot? can’t you spell sexist shit for brains? but why call me these things? do you not like the fact i think you have shit for brains? why don’t you just compare me to paul henry and complain to the human rights commission because i’m comparing you a retard, and that’s discriminatory towards retards?

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.2.1

              See the reply above. What does Carter have to do with the government.

              The post is on the government wanting to stifle dissent

              I’d have to assume you raised Chris Carter because it is of more importance to you than the stifling of dissent. Explain why this is the case? Otherwise I’ll just assume you are just a homophobe.

            • Pascal's bookie 2.2.1.1.2.2

              Fuck eh Lynn.

              Poke a stick at it and watch the spittle fly.

              snargle flargle schleisen flukter, snibble targin heppensharft.

              etc.

              Got content?

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.2.3

              PB: Yeah I have a bit of time this morning (big compiles due to structural changes). So I thought I’d have a wee poke into a pontificating ego when I saw such an obvious diversion comment.

              Besides I haven’t exercised my net-needling skills for a while. Being sysop is a bit constraining about what I can do.

            • TightyRighty 2.2.1.1.2.4

              turned the reply button off shit for brains. scared of something? stifling dissent is nothing new. we all know about how Hulun treated journalists who did and didn’t like her. it’s really the only the reason braunias still has a job.carter, ex government minister, trying to head off questions by playing the gay card. this government has not tried to stifle teachers, the ssc has, and has been told by the education minister to back off. Tony Ryall is doing a magnificent job. health boards were packed with labour lackeys and other do nothings that needed to go. why wait? if you have an unperforming staff member do you wait for them to resign? no. you start making moves to make them redundant. paula bennet? storm in a tea cup. nothing will come of it as it what she did adds much needed perspective to arguments and debates. rodney’s super city will be excellent, especially with banks as mayor.

            • Tim Ellis 2.2.1.1.2.5

              that kind of abuse isn’t warranted LP and you don’t have any credibility referring to the “sewer” when you start those sorts of flame wars.

            • Tim Ellis 2.2.1.1.2.6

              TR, that kind of abuse isn’t needed either. LP didn’t turn off the reply button. It disappears after a certain level of replies automatically.

              • Tim Ellis

                This isn’t about moderation LP, it’s about you encouraging good commenting behaviour by example rather than climbing into the gutter.

                • lprent

                  It is always about moderation. That is the bounding factor.

                  Within in that limit it depends on what you want to achieve, and I’m sure that your objectives are not the same as mine. As you know I detest people who say meaningless things like TR did.

                  So I called him on it, made sure his attention was drawn to it, and then made damn sure he became aware of his habit and what I thought of it. It helps lift net standards. People are either more careful where I may read. Or they depart from my presence. Either way I’m out ahead. I consider that to be a useful outcome.

                  On the way through it helps in raising standards on the net forums. I should really do it more at the sewer. It is a pity that I don’t have much time for it.

                  • TightyRighty

                    Um with all due respect to your version of meaningless, all i did was point out that anne tolley had told the SSC to back off. which she did. so whats meaningless about that? you may not like Anne Tolley, thats your call, but telling another government to back off when they are meddling in your department, publicly too, is hardly meaningless. that to me is very indicative of a government willing to tolerate a little dissent, even from within it’s ranks. though of course you’ll have some fatuous reasons why i am wrong. even though you have avoided any discussion of tolley being the one to call the ssc out. you just moved on to try and slur some other cabinet ministers. i can think of several ministers in the former government who could have exhibited some ministerial responsibility (all of them), but to avoid accusations of living in the past, I won’t list them like that snore bore Darien Fenton

                    • lprent

                      Blustering and trying to distort what everyone can see plainly above is also stupid.

                      I responded to the comment about Tolley.

                      Do you have a link? All I can see is stuff saying that this is proceeding

                      You ignored that.

                      I then responded to

                      at least this government can handle dissent.

                      I said

                      Just off the top of my head

                      * Paula Bennett is still in front of the privacy commissoner for releasing private information to stifle dissent.
                      * Tony Ryall has been sacking any DHB board member who he thinks might disagree with him.
                      * Rodney Hide has had councils trying to gag employees talking about super city implications.
                      * Brownlee has been making legislation avoid select committees. Has ANY legislation not passed the house under urgency in many of its stages.

                      Sounds to me like this government is terrified of hearing opinions that they don’t like.

                      And you! You seem to live with your head firmly stuffed up your arse so you can maintain a closed loop between the crap you want to consume and what you ingest. I suppose it keeps you firmly in 2008 and prevents contamination with reality.

                      What I called you on was:-

                      at least this government can handle dissent.

                      That was blatantly untrue as I pointed out. This is a government that has brought new lows to stifling dissent. Obviously you didn’t like confronting reality because you went into your usual avoidance behaviors.

                      As you did each diverting turn, I commented on the diversion and brought you back to answering my questions. I guess that you just hate reality. Perhaps you should look at a pharmaceutical solution that dulls it a bit further.

                      Alternatively don’t make bloody ridiculous comments where I can see them. You never really know when I’ll take an interest in your continuing struggle to understand the world as it is rather than how you’d like it to be.

                    • TightyRighty []

                      “This is a government that has brought new lows to stifling dissent.”

                      Brought new lows to stifling dissent? Electoral Finance Act anyone? National, who are fast falling out of my favour for other reasons have yet to sink as low as that.

                      here is the link for Tolley

                      http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/national/politics/3125623/Gag-plan-incenses-teacher-unions

                      a very good quote in there

                      “But in a show of camaraderie, Education Minister Anne Tolley has thrown her support behind the unions. It is understood she contacted State Services Minister Tony Ryall to get the process stopped”

                      now, i’m not saying that the code of conduct is a good thing, far from it. I just don’t believe this government is as bad as you are making it out to be.

                      and on a side note, why, for the second time today is your site banner now blue?

                    • lprent []

                      Thank you. That was a much better answer. To which I will politely disagree. I suspect that time will tell, but at present it looks to me like there is a strong anti-dissent sentiment inside this government. Far more than the last one.

                      Have you looked at the Nats replacement for the EFA? It looks a lot like ummm the EFA. I suspect that by the time it gets through the select committee it will look even more like the EFA with the exception of the electoral accounting period.

                      There were reasons for the each of prescriptions in the EFA. They were related to previous issues where people had been ducking around the intent of the 1993 electoral law.

                      The blue banner is due to the style sheet background colour of tan not displaying on your browser. I switched the banner to a transparent graphic last week. So the a old conservative style is leaking through. I’ll fix by changing the page header.

                  • Tim Ellis

                    nonsense, LP, you can twist and turn as you like but nobody seriously believes that you’re lifting net standards by abusing people.

                    • lprent

                      It seems to have worked in the past. We seem to have pretty well gotten rid of the trolls here from that process. A few have permanent bans.

                      But most seem to have just given up because they can”t open their mouths without people stuffing their words back into it.

                      Should I start assisting felix and others on your comments? You really do seem to have a distorted sense of reality at times.

                      It always seems to preview the National party lines. Can you explain that?

              • gitmo

                Pull your head out of your arse ………… it’s an insignificant little blog, if you can’t cope with the odd bit of visual verbal from anonymous bloggers best you get your panties unbunched and go read a book.

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.2.7

              The reply limit is 5 or 6 deep because of the width constraints on the screen.

              The question is about this government stifling dissent. What is this Hulun of which you speak. It is hard to see how a territory in Manchuria is of any relevance.

              There is a thing called ministerial responsibility. So who is the minister in charge of state services? I think that it is Tony Ryall? Why has he asked the State Services Commission to proceed down this path? Because they don’t do this type of review without a ministerial request.

              I didn’t ask about how Tony Ryall was doing. I asked about his tendency to try and stifle dissent. I was referring to the DHB boards. Ryall stomped right over all due process about getting rid of people. Every other employer has to do it. However Ryall seemed to think that the rules don’t apply to him.

              But if you want to open up the question to Ryalls tendency to see people out to get him everywhere – then fine. I’m not sure how a discussion on one persons paranoia helps… But we can discuss it.

              I suspect that Paula Bennett, by accessing information she was not entitled to see, has effectively started a whole movement about personal privacy in the civil service. There seems to have been a lot of movement around that in the past weeks. Who’d want their info accessible by the incompetent ministers that Key has to deal with?

              Hide has released the 3rd Auckland super-city bill. For some strange reason it omitted to define the duties of the local boards. They have no powers. Why is ACT afraid of democracy?

              BTW: Banks probably will have to run as an independent against some good right candidates. Seems to have pissed off a lot of people on the political right here.

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.2.8

              Hi TE.

              All I did was ask (impolitely as his comment deserved) if he was still living in 2008 and suggested a possible explanation. Admitted the explanation was designed to trigger long-observed TR’s prejudices.

              And you! You seem to live with your head firmly stuffed up your arse so you can maintain a closed loop between the crap you want to consume and what you ingest. I suppose it keeps you firmly in 2008 and prevents contamination with reality.

              The other moderators will be along eventually. But I don’t think that they’ll find much wrong with my comments.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    This is the type of move you’d expect from a government that’s not in touch with reality, never mind the electorate, and are trying to hide their decisions that prove that they really don’t know what they’re doing. This is a government that’s sure that it knows best even though all the evidence is to the contrary.

  4. prism 4

    If you can’t say anything about anybody what will happen to the whistleblower legislation? Will they be shot at dawn? I know an ex teacher who was sanctioned for burning a NZ flag in the last government’s time. In the same period charities who spent a significant time advocating for their disabled constituents were also denied their previous government grants. Why should government help people criticising them? Shut up, hold your hand out and be grateful for our charitable assistance, sliding towards Dickensian.

    It seems that in these terrorist days we are seeing a readiness to impose draconian controls.

  5. Irascible 5

    The arguments that attack the post that use personalities to justify either side of the debate are ignoring the fundamental issue here… the NACT govt, through its agencies, has an obvious tendency to creating a stasi like employment situation and state in N.Z.

    The implication of the Ryall lead State Services recommendation is but the thin edge of a wedge that will progressively erode the rights of individuals regardless of the head of a pin debate on whether the limitation applies to a criticism of the Minister or of the policies the Government is imposing, contemplating or has already imposed. Once a programme is accepted, even if it is but a “minor” point, it very soon becomes an expanded policy and wider powers given.

    Make no mistake this proposal is a serious one that has the ability to allow the stasi mentality of this NACT government to spread.

  6. TightyRighty 6

    I have looked. and at least i have the oppurtunity to do so, and to have a say, this time. I do agree it does startlingly resemble in parts labours version. too much C&P methinks. But the essence has changed, there is less of an attempt to stifle interested third parties. though of course not much effort made to clear up hidden donations. There is no argument the rules needed to be cleared up, but the last EFA was remarkably draconian, and succesfull attempts to portray it as a knee-jerk reaction to the exclusive bretheren campaign of 2005 didn’t help. while obviously some of it was a reaction to the exclusive bretheren, i can’t understand why labour got so scared over something that was one of the few major factors that cost national the 2005 election? except maybe to stifle dissent.

    pretty funny that when this site auto-formats for whatever reason, it looks like a poster for the nats. also, seem to be having endless trouble with the anti-spam word, first attempt is always ***invalid***, followed by a server error.

  7. Pascal's bookie 7

    i can’t understand why labour got so scared over something that was one of the few major factors that cost national the 2005 election? except maybe to stifle dissent.

    Just becuase the EB sucked at covert third party funding of partisan campaigns, doesn’t mean other groups would, once the cat was out of the bag…

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