Today’s editorial in the Herald is headlined “Class standards leaflet a misuse of public funds.”
In response to criticism from educationists and an opposition roadshow by the primary teachers’ union, National MPs will host public meetings around the country and information on the standards will be mailed out to households. Unfortunately, this material, financed by the taxpayer, features the National Party logo on every page.This is not only a misuse of public money, it discredits the campaign to sell the standards. The information leaflet, which will be financed out of the Prime Minister’s leader’s budget, bears a striking resemblance to the sort of election advertising that National criticised the Labour Party for producing under the Electoral Finance Act.
In fact, Labour used this public money to promote policies that were rather less contentious than this. It would seem National has forgotten the distinction it once made between legitimate public information and political promotions in the last term of the Labour Administration, and ignored the rulings made then by the Auditor-General. The lesson of that episode was that money allocated to ministers and parties for the communication of policies and other information of public interest was not intended to be used to sell politically charged flagship policies such as national standards.
We look forward to the Herald’s campaign for the Prime Minister to pay the money back.