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‘Oh, oh’: sound of a minister floundering

Written By: - Date published: 8:23 am, March 18th, 2010 - 27 comments
Categories: education - Tags: , , ,

Which minister will be next to go? Rodney Hide or Anne Tolley?

If competence was a condition of keeping their job, both would be long gone. But doing a good minister has never been a job requirement in John Key’s government. It comes down to which of them makes a spectacular mistake so serious that Key has to wake up and sack them.

On that ground, you’ve got to say Tolley is odds on favourite. Watch the vid of her trying to answer simple questions about her portfolio yesterday, and note the wide-eyed look and the involuntary ‘oh, oh’ sounds she makes the second she has to answer a question by relying on her on knowledge of the issues:

To the tune of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ John Armstrong tries to paint this the best he can for Tolley. “Mallard was justified in claiming a victory – but only on points. This time there was applause from Tolley’s own side of the House as the Education Minister managed to keep her poise – if only just.”

But this is the really interesting line “Mallard knows he is in danger of being painted as a bully and has accordingly adopted a more forensic approach to his questioning.”

It would be a sad, sad day if a member asking a minister questions about her portfolio is seen as a ‘bully’. I mean should Mallard go and give her a hug because she isn’t up to her job? She’s a minister of the Crown responsible for the education of our children, not a child in a school play.

But, as Armstrong has mentioned it, this ‘bully’ line is clearly one that National’s spin doctors are trying to push on the media. Think about how desperate that position is, how irredeemable Tolley’s performance as a minister is, when the Nats are trying to scare Mallard (who is far from afraid of epithet’s by his opponents) into not asking legitimate questions.


27 comments on “‘Oh, oh’: sound of a minister floundering”

  1. This was another trainwreck of a performance and Armstrong’s comments show that he was not paying attention to the detail of the questions and the way the answers completely missed the point.

    The Minister’s initial briefing said that the previous Government’s policies, based on professional development for teachers, was showing very good results and should be continued with.

    Instead she has foisted National Standards on us. This needs to be repeated as often as possible, and has been acknowledged by her

    National … standards … will … not … raise … literacy … standards

    To make matters worse it seems to me that some money was taken out of professional development and diverted to the pool of money used for National Standards and the increase in private school funding.

    I wonder if there will be a question today on Treasury’s recommended increase in private school funding?

    • jcuknz 1.1

      But think of the money that will be saved from all the tests schools are conducting now which are not standard. Perhaps they are sub-standard … surely better to have a good national standard which means something to more than those who conduct the tests.

      • Bright Red 1.1.1

        I… I don’t think you understand the issue

      • mickysavage 1.1.2


        But think of the money that will be saved from all the tests schools are conducting now which are not standard. Perhaps they are sub-standard

        Myth 3 of National Standards (there are a few)

        There will be more testing

        There actually will be NO more testing. They are relying on existing ASTLE and PAT tests. The money is being spent in part on inter school moderation, so that a batch of test results for one school can be compared to a batch of school results for another school.

        • bill brown

          “They are relying on existing ASTLE and PAT tests”

          Which, by the way, are not aligned with the national standard

          An on standard ASTLE does not mean an on standard “standard”

          • Paul3

            In fact AsTTle is miles out and would show a vast majority of kids would not meet the National Standard. Even when their actual achievement far exceeds the Standards. This when AsTTle is often touted as the best thing in assessment. I understand that the MOE has only just worked this out and is quickly trying to get things right. I’m guessing but I reckon there are a heap of other similar problems that have yet to be worked through. Maybe there should be a trial!!!!

  2. Jollies 2

    Oh I don’t know, Labour really set a whole new standard of ministerial incompetence. Anybody remember Judith Tizard (looking forward to seeing how much she spent on credit cards, btw, no wonder she gave Cindy a free run to get whalloped in Central)? Rick boof-head Barker set some low standards too. Waiting for Bill Yiu to do his tell all on him and Jones. Cunliffe made a mess of telco regulation. Smart guy but too much ego. Or what about Cullen’s spectacular failures, not just spending half a billion on the train set but letting public service balloon so we have so much debt now. Thanks cullen and thanks labour for being so incompetent.

    • Marty G 2.1

      So, jollies, what you’re saying Tolley you think is incompetent like previous ministers and should go?

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      we have so much debt now.

      Ah, the plaint of the delusional.

      The reality is that we have so little debt now because of Cullen’s responsible administration of our money in doing things like paying down debt. Unlike the Blinglish housing rort, it made us better off.

  3. kaplan 3

    Why is it that practically every political journalist spends so much more time analysing political strategy over actual content?
    Is it a failing in their training? Are they just trying to out-analyse each other?
    Are they actually expected to report like this and is it me (as unlikely as that is…) that has the problem?

    • Marty G 3.1

      they don’t want to be seen as biased, so they don’t want to be seen taking a position on policy if they can avoid it, and they think that people aren’t interested in substance, just the soap opera of politics.

      • Marty G 3.1.1

        I should say ‘they don’t want to reveal their bias’. Everyone has political bias, of course, but there’s a myth that journos are somehow above it.

  4. tc 4

    Nice work from Trev so how about some others joining in the fray and exposing their opposites because if this can be done to Tolley surely Bennett/Wilkinson/Smith/Coleman/Collins etc still appear to led a charmed life cavorting about doing f’all other than slash n burn.

    It’s as if Trev’s the only one getting on with it…..or is that or the msm again and they’re all actually getting stuck in? Blinglish’s lies being an obvious target.

  5. toad 5

    Listen carefully, with the volume up, I think it is more than ‘Oh, oh’.

    I’m pretty sure what she mutters before rising to attempt to answer the first supplementary is:

    Oh, oh gawd, aw…

    She’s obviously been receiving some coaching over the recess and been told to obfuscate on the question itself and go into broken record mode on “one in five children…”

  6. freedom 6

    Personally I was concerned with the Deputy Speakers innaccurate statements regarding the answers given by the ‘ahem’ Hon Anne Tolley when referring to a briefing as a manifesto

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      The Speaker (deputy) was obviously doing everything he could to help Tolley. It was a disgusting amount of partisanship on his part.

  7. Ianmac 7

    Went to Anne Tolley’s meeting here last night. I asked her how National Testing would help my grandson whose teacher has discussed his slow progress in detail with his parents. She of course didn’t answer the question and instead congratulated the school.
    However, it did seem to me that she really really wants to fix the 20% (?) tail. Funny that the tail is already know before National Testing. Its just that the $36 million testing won’t do it. Must be a tough position for her personally to be meeting so many contradictions to the plan but having to carry on anyway.

  8. BLiP 8

    Chopper Tolley is certainly wriggling like a worm on the end of a hook, but what about Crusher Collins? Did you hear her trying to explain the “mana enhancing” consultation process she engaged in with Pita Sharples in relation to policies which impact on Maori?

  9. Tolley’s question for today is:

    Hon TREVOR MALLARD to the Minister of Education: By how much did students’ reading and writing improve according to the 2008 evaluation of the Literacy Strategy, outlined at the top of page 18 in the November 2008 Briefing to the Incoming Minister of Education?

    If you want to read the briefing it is at http://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/all/files/MinEdu_BIM.pdf

    I can hardly wait …

    • Ianmac 9.1

      Micky: I do believe Anne will have urgent business long time planned since this morning, which will mean that in her absence, I am afraid that good ole’ Jerry will non-answer for her. Take a bet?

    • Ianmac 9.2

      I bet Anne will have a longstanding engagement since this morning, so that she is unable to attend today.

    • Pete 9.3

      Me too – interesting BIM really – explodes the myths surrounding the ‘broken-record’ figures Tolley spouts (seemingly at every opportunity).

      I’m also in agreement with Ianmac’s comment – it seems odd that funding will go to measure something that is already known instead of funding resources to boost performance in these areas…

      Of course that’s ignoring all the other meaningless cuts in education (and for what?).

      Pretty much all the cuts (acroos the public sector come back to the ‘bloated public sector’ meme(evidence – because we say so) and recession (we can’t ‘waste’ money on things we don’t need – and we don’t need THESE things because WE say so).

      Just because the numbers of public servants are higher than when Labour came into power doesn’t mean they aren’t helping make a positive difference in New Zealander’s lives, and just because you are ideologically opposed to something, or want to ‘thank’ party supporters is not reason enough, for me, to cut important services.

      Sorry, a bit more of a rant than anticipated…

  10. reddy 10

    didn’t believe you before, but Armstrong really is ….well…backing mediocrity. Horrible piece of journalism, especially if he wrote the headline.

    It’s like she’s been getting 20% results and now gets 35% and all of a sudden deserves glowing praise.

  11. Adrian 11

    The local “2-minutes-silence” here (Blenheim) on Tolleys meeting last night headlined “Parents give Tolley an A”, the body of the story says “after the meeting, several parents said they approved of the programme”. There were about 30 there, 2 out of 30 = FAIL, on message and journalism. They pictured and voxpoped 3, I know one of them is a strong Nat supporter/member and I think the other is as well as being a BOT member, the third expressed concern about her dyslexic child’s school receiving less funding. I bet the two plants steered to the reporter. The story is reasonably reported but the headline was almost certainly done by an imbedded central control editor in Christchurch. The sub editing has been done there for about a year and I doubt that they even know where Blenheim is let alone been here, some of the local knowledge inaccurracies have been doozies.

  12. Ianmac 12

    Adrian I agree. There were a few there who I think were plants and that’s OK. They are bound to support for political reasons. My own assessment that there were very few who were sold on the idea. The wish of Anne to deal to those who are failing is strong and commendable. BUT there is a disconnect between the known problem and the testing as a remedy. How will the dyslexic or the underachiever or the slow learner be helped with Testing? Not answered.
    I too snorted at the headline giving the “Tolley A”. I spoke to about 12 people very briefly after the meeting and most were under-whelmed. Maybe a letter to the paper?

  13. George.com 13

    How much $$ has National made available to support students to meet National standards. $12 million per year. If the % of students failing is 20%, as the Minister states, then that equates to around $140 per student per year. I doubt that will go very far to addressing under achievement.

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