Anne Tolley put out an odd media statement on Friday.
She reckons Trevor Mallard, opposition spokesperson for Education, dominated two public meetings in Auckland on her Government’s unpopular national standards policy. Which begs the question, was she actually all there at either meeting?
At the Onehunga meeting Mallard asked one question, querying how much time the Minister had calculated that schools would have to spend on reporting on the standards to parents. She couldn’t answer the question, although it was asked very straight. So Mallard asked for an average. Again Tolley couldn’t answer, and I got the impression that the work had not been done by the Ministry to work this out.
Mallard didn’t heckle (and neither did Labour MP Carol Beaumont who was next to him). He did seem to be filming the Minister on his phone, but there was no secrecy about it – it was blatantly obvious. The Minister raised no concerns about this at the time, that I saw. [just a note, Labour MPs video most speeches they give nowdays, as do Nats, so surely it’s no big deal if someone else records it too]
I was not at the Panmure meeting, but Mallard himself stated at Red Alert that he didn’t ask any questions at all there.
As opposition spokeperson on education Mallard does actually have a democratic responsibility to critique the government’s policies, to ask questions and to hold the Minister accountable. This is not stalking, as National Party bloggers Cameron Slater and David Farrar have portrayed it, it is an important democratic function.
So the Minister is so threatened by one question from Mallard that she couldn’t answer that she tries to portray the opposition spokesperson on education as losing the plot.
Look in the mirror Anne Tolley.