MANA in Parliament, 14-16 May 2013

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    Headline: MANA in Parliament, 14-16 May 2013

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 MANA in Parliament, 14-16 May 2013Posted on May 22, 2013 by admin in Mana in Parliament, Press Releases

Government Bills

Budget week in Parliament started out on an extremely low note.  Tuesday saw the passing of the second reading of the Education Amendment Bill to introduce charter schools in Aotearoa.  Charter schools have long been championed by the ACT Party to enable private, profit-seeking “education management organisations” to set up unregulated schools and receive large amounts of government funding to do so – at least twice as much as state schools.  Following the model established elsewhere in the world, these schools will be set-up in low decile communities where there are greater numbers of students who are under-achieving academically.  Ironically, these schools won’t have to follow curriculum guidelines, they won’t have to have registered teachers, and they won’t be accountable to parents via a school Board of Trustees.  They won’t even have to be accountable for the spending of public money.  And to top it all off, evidence from overseas shows they do nothing to address academic under-achievement, and that some actually ‘cook the books’ to keep pass rates high by kicking out under-performing students, as was raised in the submission from Te Huarahi Māori Motuhake, PPTA.  Why are they being established here then?  There seems to be no good reason, except to enable yet more tax-payer money to go straight into the hands of National’s and ACT’s corporate mates instead of into ensuring our existing schools are properly funded and our kids properly supported for learning, including being fed.  Ministry of Education papers show that international organisations will be able to set up charter schools here.  Sickeningly, the Bill has only passed because of support from the Māori Party – without them the Bill would be off the table.  All but one submission from Māori vehemently opposed charter schools, calling them exploitative and open to corruption.  Ae, Māori want and need alternatives to mainstream schools, and as the Māori submitters made clear – we already have this in the Education Act with kura kaupapa Māori and special character schools such as kura-a-iwi, both of which have been very successful.   The drive to create private and unregulated schools just can’t be justified on any level.  See the MANA website,, for Hone’s media statement on the Bill entitled “Charter schools a direct attack on kura kaupapa Māori and public education”.

General debate speech on charter schools

Hone gets two general debate slots a year and he used his first slot in 2013 to talk more extensively about charter schools.  See the MANA website for a copy of his speech where he shares his disgust that the Māori Party is backing charter schools when they have failed to back kura kaupapa Māori and ensure that the government properly fund and support them.  He talked about the long struggle to establish kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori, and that it was done because making a commitment to te reo Māori, to whānau, to kaupapa Māori is critical to successful learning outcomes for Māori students – a point that’s been well proven over the years.  He also reiterated that charter schools will have no accountability to te reo Māori, to whānau, to Te Aho Matua or Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, no obligation to put registered teachers in front of kids, and no transparency under the OIA – and to add insult to injury, they’ll get much more funding than kura.  And he also noted that, in their submission on the Bill, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu said the evidence shows charter schools are highly susceptible to fraud, waste, and abuse.  He called on the Māori Party to use their so-called influence at the top-table to properly fund kura kaupapa Māori, to continue and extend the Kotahitanga programme in mainstream schools that the government has just cut, and to reinstate the Manaaki Tauira fund to assist Māori in tertiary education – and not to back the introduction of a failed model to exploit our kids in struggling neighbourhoods. 

Members’ Bills

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Up on this week’s Members’ Day was the second reading of the Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Bill, which MANA continued to oppose as such measures do nothing to address the issue of gangs nor enhance public safety.  Submitters raised a number of issues with and significant flaws in the Bill, including the concerning increase in police powers.  Also up this week was the first reading of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (No 2) to set a 20% limit on the proportion of Fonterra that could be sold by farmers into the new co-op fund, which MANA supported.  The purpose is to ensure that the dividends and proceeds remain largely in the hands of farmer shareholders and not external investors.  Unfortunately, the Bill was voted down at first reading as it didn’t receive a majority of votes in support.

Budget Day

The government’s Budget 2013 has been roundly criticised by many for its failure to take action on child poverty in Aotearoa, and especially in light of the extensive recommendations made by the Children’s Commissioners Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on Solutions to Child Poverty.  Funnily enough though, the Children’s Commissioner himself commented that the government is doing all they can to alleviate child poverty given the economy.  Excuse me?  Aren’t children meant to be our priority, not something to squeeze in if and when we can afford it?  I saw a comment on Facebook that said, “With friends like the Children’s Commissioner, who needs enemies.”

  • Housing:  While the government made several announcements on housing in the Budget – together they amount to a further backward step.  On the one hand they have extended income-related rent subsidies from state housing tenants to community housing tenants, which is great, but then they have also introduced ‘renewable tenancies’ for both which means their tenancies will be up for regular review where they’ll need to prove their extreme need.  The goal is to use renewable tenancies to push up to 3000 tenants out of state houses in the next few years.  And again, on the one hand they’re going to build new bedroom extensions onto existing 3 bedroom state houses – but they haven’t committed to building the 20,000 new state houses that are so desperately needed by low-income whānau. 
  • Feed the Kids:  And of course MANA was very disappointed that the Budget contained no provision for more food in schools to support the health and learning of the 80,000-100,000 kids estimated to go to school hungry each day … although we have heard that the government is to make an announcement on this in the coming weeks.  Rumour has it that the National caucus is very split on the issue and it’s taking time to sort out what they’ll actually commit to – and that’s why it wasn’t in the Budget.
  • The Budget and the recommendations of the EAG:  Of the 78 recommendations made by the EAG, only 3 were included in the budget – and then only partially.  These included:
    • the extension of the Heat Smart programme to insulate 46,000 homes (the EAG wants all un- or under-insulated homes done);
    • a trial Warrant of Fitness check for state rental homes (the EAG wanted it trialled and implemented, and extended to the private rental market, where many of the issues to do with poor housing standards lie);
    • a small increase of $1.5m into Budget Services (the EAG recommended a suite of measures including a decent increase in funding to Budget Services and financial literacy education)

See the MANA website for a copy of Hone’s Budget speech in Parliament, and his subsequent media statement, where he also comments on training and employment, and the again near zero investment into Māori education.

Feed the Kids Bill – first reading now delayed until Weds 10 July

Earlier in the week Hone requested and was granted an extension for the first reading of his Feed the Kids Bill.  It will now come up on Wednesday 10 July.  There were a few reasons for the delay, mainly to ensure that he can fit everything in over the next 6 weeks, including supporting MANA’s candidate in the Ikaroa Rāwhiti by-election campaign.  And the extra month will give us more time to persuade ACT, United Future and the National Party caucus to vote for it!

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