The Herald was just about as damning as they get of National on Tuesday, with Claire Trevett’s piece on Anne Tolley. Of course, the Herald is never going to out and out criticise a National minister but between the fluff and odd anti-left remarks (“lippy unions”, “excessive regulation”) there’s some pretty tough comments.
That Tolley still gets a 5/10 despite Trevett having nothing good to say about her means we can effectively consider the Herald’s ranking system to be out 5, and Tolley got zero (what’s with this obsession with grades, anyway?):
Her decision to target adult night courses as one area for cuts is understandable and should have been easier to “sell” – deeper cuts to education for young people would be even more unpalatable. But it attracted far more opprobrium than it should have. It drew a petition with more than 50,000 signatures, and National sources say backbench electorate MPs were besieged to such an extent that a caucus revolt was narrowly averted.
Tolley’s ‘hobby courses’ comment, gleefully echoed by the right, spoke of arrogance and ignorance on many levels.
Her performance has been inconsistent and she appears to have taken longer than many of her colleagues to come to grips with her portfolio.
Which is the nice way of saying that if there were anyone better in National’s ranks to replace her, she wouldn’t be a minister.
There was a very close call days before the Budget, when she realised her plans to save money by keeping new entrant class sizes at a ratio of 1:18 instead of moving them to 1:15 would mean nearly 800 teachers already taken on would lose their jobs. She admitted with astonishing frankness that she simply had not realised it was already in place at many schools
What’s 800 jobs between friends? Honestly, there’s dumb and then there’s ‘oops, did I just sack 800 people?’ dumb.
On National standards: “Mrs Tolley’s sales job on the policy has been found wanting, as has the execution.”
The whole things a farce and Tolley doesn’t even seem to understand there is a problem
Until recently, she was reluctant to return media calls on even uncontroversial matters. This was astonishing for a front bench minister in charge of such a fundamental portfolio.
A lot of ministers are like this. It’s a hang over from the opposition days when they all had to hide and let John do the smiling, lest they speak too openly and spoil things
John Key has not followed the practice of Helen Clark of parachuting stronger ministers in to mentor those who are struggling. His philosophy is one of sink or swim.
That might be fine if you’re talking about analysts at a bank but this person is meant to be running our education system. When she stuffs up, it’s a disaster for all of us. It is Key’s responsibility to ensure his ministers are up to the job and performing. That he is leaving Tolley to flounder in the management of such an important portfolio rather than upholding the standards he promised is another testament to Key’s laziness and his weakness.