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Serious question: Treasury?

Written By: - Date published: 7:46 am, October 31st, 2013 - 86 comments
Categories: accountability, bill english, class war, democracy under attack, education, Hekia parata, john key, national, slippery, spin, workers' rights - Tags:

Why is Treasury providing the government with advice on spinning and disguising widespread changes to Education?

Treasury urged education minister to keep `ambitious agenda’ for schools low-key

Controversial changes to education should be kept as low-profile as possible, official advice to the Government says.

Documents obtained by the Herald cite Education Minister Hekia Parata’s “ambitious agenda for change in the schooling sector”.

Treasury officials informed Finance Minister Bill English on the scope of the changes and asked him to speak to Ms Parata about how they could be scaled back, and implemented with less attention. Their advice is outlined in a report to Mr English in July last year, obtained under the Official Information Act.

Would Treasury have been asked how to present the information?  Or have they become a branch of John Key’s spin machine?  How they claim sweeping changes to Education should be presented:

“Communicating change across a broad front is difficult,” Treasury officials warned. “Overseas experience in education reform suggests focusing on communicating a positively framed ‘crucial few’ at any one time.”

This can be done “while making smaller incremental changes in a less high profile manner across a range of fronts”.

Themes such as “supporting quality teaching” and “measuring performance to focus support” can be used to help communicate change, the Treasury suggested.

“More harder-edged changes could be pursued in parallel, incrementally and without significant profile.”

A spokeswoman from Ms Parata’s office yesterday distanced the minister from such advice: “It is important to reiterate that the paper contains Treasury advice or comment – this does not mean this advice was accepted, and in this case it was not.”

Averill Gordon, senior lecturer in public relations at AUT, said she was surprised by the approach suggested by the Treasury.

It bothers me that this approach is part of the MO of Key’s government: i.e. developing a raft of changes embedded within different parts of Bills and across several Bills that add up to a significant shift in policy. This way, seemingly small changes mask massive changes that will have significant impacts, as with employment laws.

In this way, NZ’s democracy is undermined, and changes are continually made that benefit the few and make life more difficult for the many.

Has Treasury become an enemy of the people?

86 comments on “Serious question: Treasury?”

  1. Paul 1

    So will the media ask some tough questions about this?
    Or talk about the Block?

    • Tat Loo (CV) 1.1

      The media is supposed to challenge the narrative and the facts of those in power. Our media just underlines and repeats.

  2. framu 2

    “Has Treasury become an enemy of the people?”

    become? – your too generous

    and wouldnt offering advice that has nothing to do with money be somewhat outside their mandate and therefore unsanctioned and technically a bit illegal?

    frankly – if any one in treasury wants to play politics they should get of their arse and run for office.

    I think it high time we label treasury for what they really are “the economic think tank of the people who bought you the act party” – yes the “bought” is intentional

    we need a treasury of course, but an apolitical one,that is required to think beyond narrow neolib style economics is sorely needed

    • richard 2.1

      +1

      I don’t think this is a new direction for the NZ Treasury. The NZ Treasury have been a law unto themselves for the last 30 years – ever since they persuaded the gullible fools of the Lange government that the abstract pseudo-science of neo-liberal economics can be applied to real life.

      From their narrow ideological base, they continually over-reach themselves – desperately believing that because they have learnt some economic theory, they are suddenly experts in anything that has a balance sheet involved.

      The tragic outcome for New Zealand is that virtually all of their endeavours have resulted in failure. The economic wizards run COMU (http://www.comu.govt.nz/) with this aim: “The Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit (COMU) seeks to ensure that the Crown’s balance sheet is fit-for-purpose and is managed in a way that protects value, enhances performance and contains risk.”. One of the shining examples of how well they have done this is Solid Energy – http://www.comu.govt.nz/portfolio-entities/sector/energy-utilities/solid-energy-new-zealand/

      • Will@Welly 2.1.1

        Richard, that is right on the money. Straight after New Zealand devalued, millions flowed back into the New Zealand economy, as the currency traders took hold, and Roger Douglas and Treasury began their game of fool the Kiwi. The game continues today.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      we need a treasury of course, but an apolitical one,that is required to think beyond narrow neolib style economics is sorely needed

      Won’t get one as the training at school and university effectively indoctrinates people into the narrow neo-liberal fold.

      • framu 2.2.1

        well chief clown joyce has been trying to get greater influence over unis – perhaps he should be careful what he wishes for?

      • Tim 2.2.2

        I’ve never really understood why Treasury has been elevated to such high status – i.e. over and above any other government department that deals with (say) social issues.
        Make it a branch of the Ministry of Economic Development (that is of course when that bugger’s muddle of MoBIE is dismantled) AND decorporatise the entire public service with their pathetic cost accounting/purchase agreement/KPI menatlity – all of which came to pass as part of the neo-liberal agenda.

        • karol 2.2.2.1

          Agree, Tim. And thanks for the views from others. I haven’t taken that much interest in the Treasury in the past, seeing them as provide information of financial issues. I knew they had a neoliberal bent, but getting into very political strategic and spin territory is beyond anything I would have expected.

          Needs fixing.

          And should be part of what the things Olwyn reported from the Bruce Jesson lecture last night:

          The key points he made about the toxic effects of neo-liberalism were: 1. The prioritising of economic over community values.

  3. Craig Glen Eden 3

    Treasury’s actions are outrageous, i could say what the hell is going on here but sadly we all know whats going on, treasury are trying to keep New Zealanders in the dark while Key feeds them bullshit.

  4. red blooded 4

    These policies (“performance” pay, bulk funding etc) have been put up and knocked back so many times it’s ridiculous for the gnats to keep pushing them. They haven’t made it do far because the arguments used to support them are threadbare and simplistic. They don’t work to raise student achievement (which is already strong in NZ): they do work to disempower and deprofessionalise teachers, lower the level of expertise and experience in the classroom, put the focus on cost rather than quality, narrow the curriculum and negatively impact the learning of students. Put frankly, they are educational sabotage.

    We need to do dump these idiots and hope (against hope) that they FINALLY listen to the experts and look at the research rather than blindly pushing their facile “competition is always best” agenda.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Put frankly, they are educational sabotage.

      You’re talking National here. Pretty much everything they do is some of sabotage and all so that they can lower taxes for the rich.

      that they FINALLY listen to the experts and look at the research rather than blindly pushing their facile “competition is always best” agenda.

      To complex, leaving it to the magic of the market is soooo much easier (and more profitable).

  5. ianmac 5

    That has been the way that this Government has operated all along. Hence the Joyce smirk. While we mortals protest about some “little stuff” the changes collectively are changing the NZ way of life. Tweaking a bit of Employment Law here and a bit over there, a planned distraction over there and presto, we are disadvantaged and poorer.

  6. red blooded 6

    Urgh! Phone predictions… I meant “DUMP these idiots”.

    Hey, Lynn, I clicked “edit” and it just took me back to the main menu.

    [karol: prediction error above fixed – though “do these idiots” is an interesting way to put it]

    [lprent: I’ll be sitting bored in Christchurch at conference as “media” from tomorrow and over the weekend. I’m intending to have a good look at some of the systems then. Lyn won’t be around to distract me (for my own good 🙂 ). I want to have a good look at the re-edit to see if I can just strip out the bits that I’m interested in. ]

  7. Chooky 7

    @ Karol …great post

    Is policy being made by private ‘research’ PR companies?…..( advised by American business vested interests in Charter Schools and priivatising NZ education…using NZ taxpayer money?) .

    Are Treasury, the Ministry of Education and the Minister of Education , being CAPTURED….. by these hidden policy ‘research ‘ PR company infiltrators?

    ….Who are they? ….more probing questions and sunlight on this from the MSM please!

    Why is ‘MINNIE ME MOUSE’ Parata …. ignoring NZ experts in education ….Professors of Education and their advice AGAINST privatising NZ Education and Charter Schools ( initially setup with taxpayer money and assets) ………at the expense of NZ State Education?

    Are we going to end up with a MICKEY MOUSE Education System like USA?( which dumbs down the populous and indoctrinates…rather than teaches critical thinking and research excellence)

    ….and led by Messrs Mickey Mouses…..John Banks, Tony Ryall, and John Key? ….all of whom have no qualifications in Education but are puppets, making policy on the hoof to a right wing American policy directed agenda

  8. One Anonymous Knucklehead 8

    None of this is news. Treasury is a political party masquerading as a government department, and has been for years. It’s time to stop repeating the obvious and propose solutions. I would start by making them all re-apply for their jobs. It will be easy to see which ones are worth re-hiring: they’ll be the ones who can back up their theories with real-world examples of positive results.

    Alternatively, identify all those who have proposed policy based on market fundamentalism and sack them for incompetence.

    • Chooky 8.1

      ONK…+1…the fact that Treasury hired Goldman Sachs to evaluate Kiwibank says it all !

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      It will be easy to see which ones are worth re-hiring: they’ll be the ones who can back up their theories with real-world examples of positive results.

      Oh, goody, we’ll be able to fire all of them 😈

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 8.2.1

        Yeah nah, I bet some of them are smart enough to adapt. After all, there are lots of countries and economic situations to choose from, and getting out more might be good for them.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 8.3

      Correction: by “theories” I mean “notions”.

  9. tc 9

    How many contractor/consultants have the Nat’s installed into Treasury since taking office whilst slashing and burning through the rest of the public service.

    Blinglish was a career treasury official till he took the blue pill so this should come as no surprise.

    Look at Education with Parata’s sister and Health also with Blinglish’s bro getting a well paid gig too name a few, it’s what they do best this sucking off the taxpayer malarkey.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 9.1

      Unfair. Let Connor English and Apryll Parata stand or fall on their own merits. Unless you have evidence of nepotism that is.

  10. Philgwellington Wellington 10

    Xox
    This is exactly the MO of the present facade of a ‘government’ – it’s simply corporate interest, mimicking the USA.
    It’s called death by a thousand cuts. Unless the political opposition can take back government control and start governing, we are in the collective cow pat.

  11. May Ross 11

    Being an American import, I am reminded of the Republican strategy. First they attacked the education and got control of the news agencies. The Republicans wanted the populous to be ignorant, uninformed and fearful. They wanted first to prime the US people by taking all access to higher education and then feed them up on propaganda from the news agencies (Turner, Fox News) so that the people would believe whatever scheme was put forth, like, “The Patriot Act,” “The Clean Air Act,” “Trickle down economics,” which all do the opposite of what is implied by their name.

    It seems to me that John Key and his buddies are trying to use the Republican Handbook here, in NZ. I’m hoping y’all are too smart for them to get away with it. Cunliffe with the Greens is a huge step in the right direction. It’s time for NZ to teach the US how to fix things. It is so important for us, with such a small population, to educate ourselves, so that we can be players in the world market without selling our precious land, farms, mining rights, and water to the big nasty monsters overseas. The small profit being made is going in to the pocket of the 1%. Let’s stand up, before it’s too late!

    • Saarbo 11.1

      Hear, hear.

      Just another disturbing case of right wing nutters trying to manipulate democracy for their own means.

  12. Tracey 12

    Funny how they will follow some treasury advice and not other.

  13. Huginn 13

    Go to: Philip Mirowski’s Thirteen Commandments of Neoliberalism
    here: http://www.the-utopian.org/post/53360513384/the-thirteen-commandments-of-neoliberalism

    Look up:

    [2] THOU SHALT ERASE DISTINCTIONS

    [4] THOU SHALT RETASK THE STATE TO THY NEEDS

  14. millsy 14

    This is the government’s intention all along.

    John Key has learned the lessons from Bolger’s government, which tried a rip, shit and bust approach, and almost got tossed out.

    Tony Ryall is showing us all how it is done, knocking away the last vestiges of the public health system bit by tiny bit, the hike in prescription charges for the poor to may for cancer nurses for the middle classes being one example.

    • thatguynz 14.1

      Very true. The “How to boil a frog” philosophy in action..

    • Rogue Trooper 14.2

      Soimon Says “we can’t have theater nurses taking tea-breaks in the middle of an operation”, don’t you know leaving un-sterile teaspoons everywhere, dunking their biscuits in the wrong vessel, slurping from syringes!

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    Has Treasury become an enemy of the people?

    Yes.

  16. Rodel 16

    Had a ‘friend’- more of an acquaintance, in treasury who was proud of his T shirt with the big printed caption ‘Treasury Cares
    Down to the last cent’
    Not sure what he was trying to say.

  17. Natwest 17

    No Karol, the MSM won’t be covering this at the moment – as you know they are too busy covering Len Brown’s arse!

    • framu 17.1

      are you more worried about…

      a) something which isnt a crime and directly affects 2, maybe 3 or 4 people
      b) multiple instances of criminal behaviour that directly affects the biggest city in the country where a third of the population resides

      the two issues are separate you know – weve dealt with the affair, now were onto the political motivations and illegal acts of those who used this for their own personal gain

      Is that simple enough for you?

  18. Natwest 18

    Maybe it’s time for a closer look at our Education system – for goodness sake the system is currently failing at least 20% of our kids, who are leaving school illiterate. Stop covering up the obvious incompetence of some in the Education system – namely lame teachers and, stop protecting this union dominated sector.

    • Tat Loo (CV) 18.1

      If you were serious about child achievement, you would be looking at eradicating child poverty by immediately increasing benefit levels and the minimum wage by at least 10%.

      Of course, you are not. Just another shill for education privateers.

      • Puckish Rogue 18.1.1

        There is no child poverty, theres children living in poverty sure but to say child poverty is disingenious at best also what criteria is used to determine this poverty

        Sounds like the so-called living wage

        • framu 18.1.1.1

          “There is no child poverty, theres children living in poverty”

          semantics much?

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 18.1.1.2

          No child poverty eh? Really? Is there an increase in treatable infectious disease admissions to hospitals that is disproportionally affecting people from low income households? Is there a strong correlation between household income and education outcomes? Is there any evidence of overcrowded damp housing? Large prison population drawn mainly from low-income households? High recidivism rates?

          The answer to these questions is “yes”. What do you propose to call it if not “poverty”? My pick is you will make more feeble attempts at denial based on your existing bias.

          • Puckish Rogue 18.1.1.2.1

            Poor parenting for a start

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 18.1.1.2.1.1

              Blame the victims. Then punish them, then feel superior, then get dragged screaming to the public square for a date with Madame Guillotine?

              We’ve tried your plan before. It was shit then and it’s shit now. A wingnut humping a zombie.

            • Rogue Trooper 18.1.1.2.1.2

              for an outcome

            • framu 18.1.1.2.1.3

              doesnt negate any actual poverty though does it

              you can still be a bad parent and live in poverty

              jesus mate – your leaving these doors wiiiiide open

            • One Anonymous Knucklehead 18.1.1.2.1.4

              PS: I note that you are arguing that poor parenting increases under a National-led government.

      • millsy 18.1.2

        Actually the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms have a part to play in leaving a lot of kids behind (not to mention the opening up of our education to international students) Due to the simple fact that school support was effectively privatised and schools cut adrift from any support (apart from a couple of extra bucks), and forced to compete, they pretty much couldnt be bothered with the bottom 20% and cut them adrift, using suspensions and exclusions or simply dumping them in the cabbage classes and hope they go away.

        It doesnt help that middle class types have been shunning their local school for the past 20 years, something that has been encouraged by governments on both sides.

    • framu 18.2

      “Stop covering up the obvious incompetence of some in the Education system”

      you mean parata dont you?

      look – this issue has been done to death and your very late to the party.

      We know why kids are failing, we know which kids are failing and we know what will help those particular kids to succeed. Oddly enough its those teachers you demonise who have been trying to tell us whats needed to fix these issues for years

      The 20% figure is bullshit because your lumping in the different reasons for failure and pinning it all on the teachers

      National standards and charter schools wont fix a single fucking thing, they arent designed to.

      Read up about G.E.R.M. – then ask yourself why the same supposed “fixes” are put forward regardless of what country its in an d what the problem is.

      In short stop being so mind bendingly ignorant, and do some basic fucking research before putting your dunce sized foot in your mouth for all to see

    • dv 18.3

      Natwest How do you justify the at least 20% number.
      Please point to the evidence.

      Oh Framu that was far too gentle.

      • framu 18.3.1

        well – i can get much more robust than that – but then thats letting nobs like natwest feel like theyve gotten a “win”

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 18.3.1.1

          Mr. Parrot and Mrs. Sponge got together, and they called their children Natwest, Chris73, BM, King Kong and Rich the other. All they’re good for is sucking up National Party talking points then repeating them ad nauseam.

          Not an original thought among them. Late to the party indeed.

          [lprent: If they do regurgitate “ad nauseam”, then eventually I ban them for trolling so I have a respite from unthinking fools == trolls. After all I get to scan almost all of the comments on the site. You wouldn’t believe how irritable I can get reading the same crap without any obvious individual intelligence appearing.

          Rich the other got one the other day for some meaningless waffle that was essentially a nice sounding wankfest displaying no actual understanding or thought. ]

    • Chooky 18.4

      Natwest….you are uneducated idiot

      Is it too much to ask you to listen to Education Professors and international academic research on the causes of educational under-achievement

      ……not lame teachers, nor union sector …….. but socio-economic underclass DEPRIVATION!

      ….stressed hungry children, malnourished children, unemployed stressed parents , poor housing or no housing, sick/unhealthy children

      Who is to blame?…the immoral National Party and Act Party , and neoliberal policies which create this underclass of deprivation

      …. and who undermine and underfund the state education system that NZ was set up on….a proud state education system which was free and of very high quality and offered remedial education where necessary.

    • dv 18.5

      AND Natwest
      Look at this

      Education NZ is 1st in the world
      And the systems the Nats are trying to copy, the US is 5th and England isn’t even in the top 10.

      http://www.prosperity.com/#!/analysis-education

      • chris73 18.5.1

        Well if we’re rated as number 5 in the world then Nationals obviously doing a good job

        • McFlock 18.5.1.1

          New Zealand has moved down two places since 2009 on overall Prosperity to 5th in 2013.

          Safety & Security has moved down by eight places to 15th, due to increases in demographic pressures, human emigration and group grievances.

          Governance has increased by one place to 2nd, mainly because of an improvement in regulation quality and a decrease in the perception of corruption.

          So not so good performance on prosperity, crap performance in safety and security, but they’ve managed to partially close the stable door after the finance company horse bolted.

          [slow clap at their good job].

    • peterlepaysan 18.6

      Statistics always fails whatever percentage a lobbyist wants to promote. That is the nature of statistics.

  19. captain hook 19

    treasury is filled with hand-picked prissy little pantywaists with too tight underpants cutting off the supply of blood to the head.
    furthermore they think they know everything and their own thoughts are facts.
    They should all be made to re-apply for their jobs.

    • Puckish Rogue 19.1

      Parliment is filled with hand-picked prissy little pantywaists with too tight underpants cutting off the supply of blood to the head.
      furthermore they think they know everything and their own thoughts are facts.
      They should all be made to re-apply for their jobs.

      – fixed it for you

      • Pascal's bookie 19.1.1

        If only we lived in a representative democracy where politicians had to reapply for their jobs eh Puck?

        • Puckish Rogue 19.1.1.1

          I mean a serious reapply not the sham we have now where you can get turfed out of an electorate but still get back in on the list…

          Maybe only be allowed to either go on the list or as an electorate MP…

          • Pascal's bookie 19.1.1.1.1

            You know how you get two votes under MMP? They both count.

            • vto 19.1.1.1.1.1

              ha ha, poor old puckish rogue – what a silly noo noo

              • Puckish Rogue

                Yes I know but it just bugs me is all that the people speak and say no we dont want that MP and then that same MP gets in on the list…

                • Pascal's bookie

                  What on earth are you talking about?

                  eg, the people of Tauranga voted Winston out as rep of Tauranga and replaced him with the Bob the builder idiot. And good luck to them. Winnie was no longer the MP for Tauranga. Instead, they were represented by the Bob chappie, who they elected to do that Job.

                  Winston got back into parliament because lots of people voted for Winston First, and he represented them. The people of tauranga don’t get a veto over that, and why on earth should they?

                  • vto

                    It astounds me that people like puckish rogue get to vote when they have pretty much no idea about the electoral system. Hate to think how much they don’t know about every other important matter…..

                    • felix

                      They don’t really need to know anything. They have a list of talking points and as each is rebutted they move on down the list, rinse and repeat.

                • framu

                  electorate vote is equivilant to local vote
                  list vote is equivilant to nationwide vote

                  and nthe list has to be published before the election

                  dont complain to anyone that you too thick to understand how your TWO votes work under mmp

                  to contine PBs analogy – tauranga said we dont want winston representing tauranga, but the rest of the country (well enough to get him into parliament) said yes to winston at a national level

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 19.1.1.1.2

            PR do you have a single original notion that doesn’t come straight out of the wingnut tr*ll playbook? Every topic, it’s like deja vue all over again. Are you trying to bore the Left to death or something?

            We need better wingnuts

  20. Tracey 20

    Wow. So rich = good parenting… thats a new one…

    When the children of the rich suffer its not from poverty but drugs… they get good lawyers tho. I recall paul holmes being lauded for his efforts with his daughter yet puckish must believe he was a bad parent for her to get ibto trouble in the first place.

    pretty sure post war rationing didnt result in the kind of poverty we are seeing in some places today.

    • Will@Welly 20.1

      No Tracey. Rich = choices. That’s why National sees it as imperative that the wealth be taken away from the middle classes so they have no choice but to comply with the wishes of the ruling elite.
      Morality – drugs and their like – do not come into the equation
      As for the post-war world, most people did not like the idea that rationing continued well beyond what was possibly necessary, but most accepted it. The irony was in 1951 the National Government set out to destroy the very foundations that so many fought for. Returned servicemen, working on the wharves, now found themselves “enemies of the state”. 60 years later the cycle continues.

  21. repateet 21

    Short memories. Don’t people remember Gabriel Makhlouf poking his nose in with political comments about education?

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