There’s good reasons for returning to parliament . . .

03/04/2011

. . . but the opportunity to deliver a valedictory speech and wanting to stick it up David Farrar and Cameron Slater  aren’t among them.

She might just take up the seat, she said. She would rather like the chance of a dignified retirement and to make a valedictory speech. . .

. . . So she says she has reasons to return: unfinished business, the salary, supporting colleagues in their first opposition election, offering institutional knowledge and support. Acting as camp mother, essentially.

Those reasons … and to “stick it up them”.

Stick it up who? Phil Goff?

“I was actually thinking of David Farrar and Cameron Slater, et al. I wasn’t thinking about my former colleagues,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a particularly worthy thing to say, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t.”

Having no good reasons for going to parliament hasn’t stopped people before but to Judith Tizard’s credit she’s just announced on Q&A that she will not take up the list seat vacated by Darren Hughes.

Her interview with Guyon Espiner will be on the link above later and if you missed the broadcast it is worth a look.

Her comments are definitely not a vote of confidence in Phil Goff, Andrew Little or the Labour Party hierachy.


More political tragics needed for strong democracy

15/12/2010

The good news is that The Nation and Q&A are going to be funded to broadcast next year.

The bad news is they will probably screen at inconvenient times as they did this year.

Do few people watch these programmes because they’re broadcast at unpopular times, or do they get those time slots because few people watch them?

An ABC interview of  Dr Sally Young, senior lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne,  by Mark Colvin might have the answer:

 Sally Young:  . . . Who is the political news audience?  . . . basically the people who are really political news tragics – people who watch Parliament Question Time or subscribe to Crikey, for example, or watch Sky News press conferences and so on live – that’s about 0.5 per cent of the Australian population. So they’re your real political tragics and it’s a very small percentage.

MARK COLVIN: And so politicians have a real dilemma there. I mean, they’re speaking on two levels and if they engage too much with the Twitterarti etc, then they’re in danger of ignoring the vast majority of the population.

SALLY YOUNG: Mm, that’s right and I mean, even just broadening it out. When I looked at the percentage of people who buy a broadsheet in Australia, it’s about 2 per cent of the adult population. So, you know, it broadens out to things like, if you count people who watch ABC or SBS news and current affairs that’s about 10 per cent, or 12 per cent might listen to ABC Local Radio. So it’s somewhere between 0.5 to 12 per cent. That’s the core audience you think are interested in detailed information about politics, that sort of public affairs.

MARK COLVIN: So you’re left with 80 to 90 per cent who get everything they know about politics from the first couple of minutes of one of the commercial channels’ news bulletins.

SALLY YOUNG: Exactly. That’s right. And one of the findings I was looking at in the book as well is that those people who are reliant, as you say, particularly on commercial television news programs, those news programs will devote possibly two minutes a night to the election…

If it’s only political tragics like you and me who watch, read and listen to serious political analysis, what do politicians do?

MARK COLVIN: Alright so put yourself in a politician’s shoes. Or let’s say, the communications director of one of the major parties. How do you deal with this?

SALLY YOUNG: Well you can see one of the ways they deal with it is that they try to, if they’re brave enough, that the politicians will go on some of the more popular news programs as with Kevin Rudd going on Rove, for example. You know, that they’ll try and engage that audience and reach that audience that isn’t the hardcore political news junkies. They’ll try and get to them through the media they actually use. So that’s one of the ways.

MARK COLVIN: As a professional journalist, we tend to see that as “Oh, they’re trying to avoid the hard questioning”. But you’re saying that it’s just a logical reaction to what’s going on.

SALLY YOUNG: And it would be anti-democratic if they didn’t try to engage those people who don’t access that sort of hard news media, really. I mean, I know that journalists do – especially in those elite media, if you want to call them that – don’t like it when politicians avoid them to go on popular media like FM radio or comedy shows or whatever it is.

This explains a lot about why politics has become much more about personalities and why election campaigns are much more presidential with so much resting on the leader.

But it doesn’t mean there isn’t still a place for hard news journalism and political analysis. The problem is, if not many people are interested in it, advertisers won’t be keen to pay of it which is why New Zealand On Air is helping to fund both The Nation and Q&A.

 Hat Tip: Larvatus Prodeo   who got it from Trevor Cook who concludes:

Twitter, Facebook etc are only going to be important when they break stories. Sure they are entertaining, but they are not journalism . . .

To paraphrase Colvin, I think we will be left with 80 to 90 per cent of the population getting their political news from the first two minutes of the evening bulletin unless Mark Scott, or some other saviour, can turn some of that social media into (research-driven) journalism, rather than turning journalism into social media.

The challenge isn’t just how to fund serious  media, it’s also how to turn more people into political tragics. That will not only ensure a bigger audience for political news and analysis it will engender more participation in the political process and membership of political parties.

Both are important parts of a strong democracy.


Conspiracy theory

18/10/2010

Labour’s conference was a chance for the party and its leader to give the public reasons to vote for them.

Q & A interviewed Phil Goff who looked like he was trying, and failing, to defend the indefensible.

The Nation chose to interview Russel Norman and do a feature on Winston Peters.

If I was trying to draw up a list of reasons to vote for a Labour-led government neither Norman nor Peters would be on it.


Mayoral fund for people not property

11/10/2010

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker said that the mayoral fund won’t be used to help people whose properties weren’t insured.

Speaking to Guyon Espiner on Q&A yesterday he said:

No, I think that we can’t replace insurance.  We have to be really clear about that, and the money that we’ve got in that fund, we’ve said that’s for people, not for property.  We’re using that money to help citizens, help families that are in difficult times, and that’s going to be needed for a long time ahead, Guyon, we’re going to need that for another 18 months or so as we work through these problems.  I don’t think we can solve all of the problems for everybody if you don’t have insurance.  Really, that’s the decision you’ve made.  There will be some cases of hardship, and we are the kind of community that will try to help, and work with people to solve those problems.

He’s right.

It may sound tough but it’s also fair. People who weren’t insured took a gamble and lost.

If they received compensation from the mayoral fund or central government it would send a message to people that they don’t need to worry about insurance.


What I said, what I meant

05/09/2010

In the Bloggerheads spot on Q&A this morning I said:

It’s not a taxpayer bail out. It’s not north saving  south, urban paying rural.

People who lent to and borrowed from South Canterbury Finance came from all over the country. Only those covered by the Deposit Guarantee scheme will get their money back.

Receivership will enable an orderly sale of assets to minimise the eventual cost and damage to the wider economy.

 The government made the right decision over a business that went badly wrong.

 When I said it’s not a tax payer bailout I meant that the company wasn’t being bailed out.

But the depositors are and the taxpayer will end up paying under the Deposit Guarantee Scheme.

Fees – taken from the big banks not finance companies – will cover some of the cost. The return on the sale of the company assets – as a whole or n pieces – will recoup a lot of money but no-one is expecting that to cover all that’s owing.

John Armstrong asks:

Was it fair that finance companies were included when the scheme was rushed into existence in October 2008 during the darkest hours of the global banking crisis and the last days of the Labour Administration?

Was it fair that finance companies still afloat then got protection while investors in those that had already crashed got nothing? Was it fair that some people had subsequently invested money in finance companies to exploit the Government guarantee?

Possibly not to the first question and definitely not to the second.

The exposure of flaws in the deposit guarantee scheme provoked demands they be called to account for failing to rectify them. . . .

While much has been made of the approval of that extension, it is essentially irrelevant. The Government was obliged to pay out the $1.6 billion to depositors because South Canterbury Finance is still covered by the original two-year scheme which has run from October 2008.

The Crown could have withdrawn its guarantee earlier if it considered there was misconduct on the part of the company or a material change in its financial position for the worse.

But the Government would still have had to pay out investors after the company inevitably defaulted as a result of the guarantee being withdrawn. Some money would have been saved. However, the Government gambled on the appointment of restructuring guru Sandy Maier as chief executive to get large portions of the company back on a sound footing. The gamble failed. But it was surely worth a go.

The simple truth is that once South Canterbury Finance was under the umbrella of the deposit guarantee scheme, the taxpayer liability was there for as long as the scheme was in place.

There are grounds for arguing the scheme has been in place too long. But that is from the benefit of hindsight.

. . . Both main parties – Labour in setting up the scheme and National this week in seeking to minimise both the cost to the taxpayer and the economic fallout – have sought to act in the national interest.

Yet, no one – apart from those who creamed it on the back of the Government guarantee – is happy. The Government is the convenient whipping boy.

It is and that’s why people accusing National of acting in the interests of supporters is tosh.

People who get their money back not only come from all around New Zealand they’ll have a variety of political persuasions and they are far fewer in number than the rest of the populace who are aggrieved. 

There are far more votes to be lost than gained from this.

But when you’re in government you don’t get to pick your fights. You have to deal with what comes up and make decisions based on the best information available.

Sometimes that will be politically popular, much of the time it won’t and this one definitely isn’t.


Q&A earthquake special

04/09/2010

TV One is planning to broadcast an extra half hour of Q&A tomorrow to cover this morning’s earthquake.

The bloggerhead segment is still on the schedule:

TV ONE will feature an extended Q+A tomorrow from 9am – 10:30am looking at the issues arising from the Canterbury Earthquake.

 Paul Holmes will interview Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker live from the earthquake devastated central city.

 Prime Minister, John Key will join us in the Auckland studio to talk through the national issues arising from the worst earthquake to hit NZ since 1931.

 It’s been a tragic week for Canterbury – Guyon Espiner talks to Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard about South Canterbury Finance and his new book, Crisis: One Central Bank Governor & the Global Financial Collapse and his battle to save our finance sector during the worldwide meltdown. Was the deposit guarantee scheme that saved SCF this week well conceived? Did anyone see this coming? And what does he really think of the government’s efforts to counter the crisis?

 Dr Therese Arseneau is joined on the panel by 2025 Taskforce head, the former Reserve Bank Governor and National Party leader, Dr Don Brash and Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey, who’s soon to take over development of the Auckland waterfront.

 @ Bloggerheads, are Keith Ng from Public Address and Ele Ludemann from Homepaddock.


HP on TV

04/09/2010

Q&A’s bloggerhead slot aims to give two different positions on the issue of the week.

Tomorrow it’s Keith Ng from Public Address, chosen because he’s young, urban and financially literate and me because I’m not so young, rural and . . . ?

The media release says:

On Q + A this Sunday:                                                                                                         

Paul Holmes interviews former South Canterbury Finance Chief Executive Sandy Maier about what went wrong and what chance taxpayers have of recovering the losses.

South Canterbury Finance’s collapse has its origins in the global financial crisis. Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard joins Guyon Espiner to talk about his new book, Crisis: One Central Bank Governor & the Global Financial Collapse and his battle to save our finance sector during the worldwide meltdown. Was the deposit guarantee scheme that saved SCF this week well conceived? Did anyone see this coming? And what does he really think of the government’s efforts to counter the crisis?

Paul and Martin Sneddon talk rugby.  One year from RWC kick-off, are we ready? Or are the critics right to be sceptical?

Dr Therese Arseneau is joined on the panel by 2025 Taskforce head, the former Reserve Bank Governor and National Party leader, Dr Don Brash and Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey, who’s soon to take over development of the Auckland waterfront.

@ Bloggerheads, are Keith Ng from Public Address and Ele Ludemann from Homepaddock.

Q + A is broadcast live 9-10am Sunday on TV ONE and repeated at 9.10pm on Sunday nights and 10.10am and 2.10pm on Mondays on TVNZ 7. 

 (TVNZ 7 screens on Freeview Channel 7 and Sky TV Channel 97)


Shouldn’t that be former?

24/07/2010

Dr Therese Arseneau is joined on the panel by ACT leader and cabinet minister Richard Prebble . . .

The TVNZ media release on the Q&A panel for tomorrow shows one word can be very important, though as one of the world’s worst proof readers I can understand how it happened.


Euro-centric is comfortable but our future is in Aisia

11/07/2010

Quote of the day:

We allow ourselves to take on an isolation of the mind . . .

. . .  We go to where we’re comfortable . . . Going to Australia is like going to the rich neighbours for lunch. Going to England is like going back to stay with your grandmother.

And it’s all very comfortable  and it’s all very within the  sort of Anglo-Saxon English speaking world but the future for New Zealand is Asia.

Already China is our number 2 trading partner soon to be our number one trading partner and we are still teaching Latin and French and German in our secondary schools. We should have a whole generation of New Zealanders already that speak Mandarin or even Bahasa so they can deal in Malaysia or Indonesia .

We are a Southern Asian nation economically but we still have a very Euro-centric mindset.

David Mahon, head of Mahon China Investment Management on Q&A.


Forced smiles & impotence

16/05/2010

The left – and some of the right who want him to move further in that direction – call John Key Smile and Wave.

It’s supposed to be an insult, but it’s also a positive reflection on his personality. He’s an optimist and smiling comes naturally to him.

It doesn’t appear to come so naturally to Phil Goff but I reckon his advisors have told him to smile more.  In recent interviews, including on Q & A this morning, he is doing that. The trouble is the smiles don’t always look natural and at least some of the time they appear to be forced.

Who can blame him? Leading of a party which was kicked out of government after nine years doesn’t provide fertile ground for smiles.

It’s also not a position in which you can achieve much and the impotence of opposition also showed in his answers on Q & A.

It’s easy enough for an Opposition to criticise government policy, but they’re not in a position to change it now and by the time they get back in to power it will be too late.

It happened to National which had to swallow several dead rats including Working for Families and interest free student loans. It’s happening to Labour now.

However, much Goff huffs and puffs about the expected increase in GST, even if he is in a position to blow it down, he won’t. It will be part of the fabric of economic policy and it’s very difficult to pull a thread here or there without it all coming apart at the seams.


Timid timing

28/03/2010

If there’s a worse time than 9am on Sunday for a television programme on politics it’s probably 11am on Saturday and 8am on Sunday.

But those who think they know what and when people want and don’t want to watch, have scheduled TV1s Q&A at 9 on Sunday mornings and TV3’s The Nation and 11 on Saturday with a repeat at 8 on Sunday.

Do they schedule the programmes at these times because not enough people watch them, or do not enough people watch them because of when they’re scheduled?

If it’s the latter and the TV channels weren’t so timid about there timing they might find that scheduling these programmes when more people can watch them might mean more people would watch them.

But which one would take that chance of scheduling what might be intelligent debate at a more watchable hour when ratings rule and people have the choice of switching channels if they don’t like what’s on?


Polls show public accept reality?

22/02/2010

The government is open to a rise in tobacco tax; there may be fewer government departments at the end of this parliamentary term;  the requirement for a 9% return on equity from Crown Research Institutes will be relaxed; Cabinet is considering more oil exploration; Bill English is disappointed with DOC and RadioNZ playing politics; long term economic restructuring is more important than short term jobs; and falling business confidence is a dose of reality.

A media release from TVNZ highlighted these points from the Guyon Espiner’s interview with Finance Minister Bill English on Q&A yesterday.

The most important of these is that government focus on long term economic restructuring rather than short term jobs.

It takes courage from a government to do what’s right in the long term when they’ll be judged at the ballot box in the short term.

The last administration bought lots of votes and we’re paying for it now. This one is facing criticism from the left for being too tough and the right for not being tough enough.

In spite of that and the need for strong medicine the polls are holding up for National. Perhaps that shows that the public realise this and have also accepted the  dose of realism which businesses are facing up to.


Things to do at 9am on Sunday

29/01/2010

Watching TV at all, let alone a programme on politics, doesn’t usually feature on my list of things to do at 9am on Sundays.

However, programmers at TVNZ have stuck to last year’s scheduling time and that’s when Agenda Q&A will screen again.

It starts this Sunday. Phil Goff and Hone Harawira are the interviewees. Mike Moore and Jeanette Fitzsimons willl join resident polticial analyst  Dr Therese Arseneau and Paul Holmes on the panel.


Don’t panic

03/11/2009

The Foreshore and Seabed Act was the result of panic.

The Court of Appeal didn’t say Iwi with continuous customary use could convert that to freehold title. It just said they had the right to test that in court.

But once that got into the media that was translated into Maori having freehold title and the ability to exclude people from the beaches. There was a public outcry and the government panicked.

That was politically costly for the Labour Party because the Act which resulted led to the birth of the Maori Party.

But Labour wasn’t the only party at fault. Former National Party leader Don Brash told Q&A the party got it wrong.

Now John Key has said the legislation will almost certainly be repealed.

There is no indication yet on what will replace it but when panic led to the mistake in the first place it would be helpful if everybody could debate the issue calmly and rationally.

Mr Key said the legislation had been complex, but a replacement that sat well with all New Zealanders was possible.

Not only possible but necessary.

Property rights must be respected and public access to the beaches must be retained. Those are not mutually exclusive.


Not easy no excuse not to try

02/11/2009

The government is planning to tweak benefits to encourage people back into work.

On Q&A yesterday:

GUYON So this is quite interesting, it’s something we haven’t heard before, you are going to Cabinet with the policy to again send young mums who are on the DPB out to work when their child reaches a certain age, and to tighten the eligibility perhaps around sickness benefits or to reduce that in some way?

BILL Well these are policies consistent with the undertakings we made when we were in opposition.

GUYON But they’re back on the cards now that things are picking up a bit?

BILL That’s right yeah, we’ve always felt that we could do a better job of making sure people had more incentive about getting off welfare to make sure it’s a bit more difficult to get on those longer term benefits, because once people are on those they’re pretty much trapped out of participation in the work force.

Guyon is wrong about not hearing this before, as Bill said this was National’s election policy.

Not being new won’t stop criticism of it.

However, what the critics overlook is that while benefits help people in the short term it’s not good for the recipients or society if people who could work stay on them for years.

Finding work which is flexible enough to fit around child care needs for single parents isn’t easy. But not being easy isn’t an excuse for not trying.


Govt wastes $1b on social services

18/10/2009

Guyon Espiner interviewing Tariana Turia on Q & A this morning:

TARIANA . . . What I’m saying is already we have a whole range of services that are contracted out, they’re extremely prescribed, and over the years we’ve seen a huge waste of public money on these services, because none of those things have in fact empowered families to take that responsibility for themselves, to not remain in that mode of thinking that people need to do things for them.  We want to change that and that came out strongly in our conference yesterday that our people want that.

GUYON What is the magnitude of this, because I looked at a consultation document which has been released on the Ministry of Social Development website, about the Whanauora policy and it talks about a Whanauora fund being set up.  Now in the past you’d talked about possibly a billion dollars going into that.  Are we looking at that sort of magnitude?

TARIANA Well to be frank with you there’s probably a billion dollars already being wasted now, so a billion dollars that’s put into Whanauora that going to transform families’ lives so that they’re not so dependent on the state to do for them, but more importantly that their families become sites of safety.  That’s a critical part of Whanauora.

Like Stephen Franks, who was a guest on the panelwhich discussed this interview, I’m not sure how spending a billion dollars from the state helps people become independent from it.

But I agree that too much is spent now on measures which increase dependence rather than assisting people to become independent.


Reasons not to vote Green

04/10/2009

Guyon Espiner’s interview with Metiria Turei on Q&A  provided the following reasons not to vote Green:

1. The public transport mantra:

By investing in public transport for example, we not only build a comprehensive public transport system for all communities across the country, but we help to mitigate the impact of the importation of oil into this country. . .

Public transport isn’t necessarily the answers in cities and its definitely not the answer in small towns and rural areas.

2. The opposition to free trade:

Well our position is that you need to have systems of fair trade, that make sure that New Zealand can retain its economic sovereignty, and free trade deals tend to undermine the economic sovereignty.

The only fair trade is free trade.

Oh no, we are not extremists like some others might be, where free trade is the only option for New Zealand which tends to be the kind of ACT National kind of extreme.  We prefer a model that deals with these issues in a sensible rational way, making sure that New Zealand retains the highest level of economic sovereignty, to make the best decisions for its own people while being engaged with the global trade movement, which is very important, particularly when you’re dealing with under developed countries for example who need support.

The only sustainable support for developing countries is trade.

3. They won’t accept that a stock take of mineral resources on public land is sensible and that the economic and social benefits from mining land with low conservation values could be done without degrading the environment.

Now we don’t want the government, we’re very fearful that the government will rip out our national parks just to find coal and petrol, so we would like to make sure that the national parks and marine reserves and wetlands for example are kept free form threats of mining.

This view  is based on blind ignorance. No-one is suggesting ripping out national parks.

4. They overcharged on a flat rented by their MPs but owned by their super fund:

Earlier this year we did – those went out of whack, between February and March of 2009 one of the houses, MPs were claiming over the market value, we fixed that valuation in June to make sure they’re only being asked to pay under market value, and last week we refunded that over claim.  So we made a mistake and we fixed it.

They repaid the excess claimed – about $6000. But no mention was made of the fact they get more by renting from their super scheme than if they owned the flats themselves.

Kiwiblog has calculated that over the eight years they have owned the property they would have only been able to claim rent of $116,000 instead of $192,000.

5. Hypocrisy.

GUYON  . . . you have been telling other MPs and other political parties that you’re the moral compass of parliament, yet you’ve been ripping the taxpayer off.

The panel responding to this interview was political commentator Dr. Therese Arseneau, former National MP Paul East and former Labour president Mike Williams.


KiwiRail must pay its way

30/09/2009

Transport Minister Steven Joyce told Q&A that if the decision to buy KiwiRail had been his he would never have bought it.

It was one of the more costly legacies of the previous adminsitration:

KiwiRail is projecting a deficit of almost 50 million dollars next year, rising to more than 300 million in 2012.

“It’s cost New Zealand around $900 million already in terms of the purchase price, plus the loans we took over when we purchased it back. It has very high fixed costs,” says Joyce.

It’s not difficult to think of many other areas where that $900 million could have done something good; and the opportunity cost of $50 million next year rising to more than $300 million in 2012 which is being wasted on the railways is eye watering.

Joyce said the government isn’t prepared to keep paying for KiwiRail and is trying to get it to a form where it can be self-sustaining.

“(So) it can at least, to use the term, wash its own face. And that is going to be a challenge, don’t underestimate the size of that challenge,” he says.

“We can’t just keep tipping tax payers money in the back of it.”

Phil Goff didn’t say sorry for this profligate expensditure of taxpayers’ money when he was doing his mea culpa. Does that mean Labour still thinks it was a good idea?


Prohibition not the cure for smoking

28/09/2009

Some might call them nanny-state measures, but I have no problem supporting smoke free laws.

Smokers’ right to indulge their addiction comes a very distant second to other people’s right to breathe uncontaminated air.

It’s a filthy habit and while I understand that once addicted to tobacco it’s very difficult to give it up, I’ve never understood why anyone would want to take it up in the first place. It’s even more difficult to understand now it’s illegal in indoor workplaces and smokers are forced on to the streets where they huddle against the weather getting their fixes.

I’ve never had a problem with the imposition of tax on tobacco either because high price must be an incentive to quit.

However, there is a point where taxes get so high it creates a black market. That’s happening in Australia where home-grown tobacco – called chop chop has a ready market. Cigarette smuggling is also a problem there and in Britain where  young women are being offered free holidays abroad if they’ll smuggle cigarettes back with them.

That’s why I don’t support Hone Harawira’s call to ban cigarettes completely.

On Q&A this morning he said:

I’d like to see the production sale and manufacture of tobacco in Aotearoa banned yeah.  I think that unlike alcohol and other drugs which people like, with cigarettes most people actually want to stop more than 80% of smokers want to stop, so it’s not like there’s going to be a black market, it’s an opportunity for us to do something to help this country become healthy.

He’s wrong. Prohibition doesn’t work.

Making it even more difficult for people to smoke in public places, exerting social pressure, doing whatever can be done to show it’s an unattractive, unhealthy and stupid thing to do might work. Banning tobacco completely won’t, it will only create a black market.


Education priorities

20/09/2009

Whether you’re an individual or a government, when your expenditure exceeds your income you’ve got to set priorities.

Education Minister Anne Tolley made it clear on Q&A this morning that her priority for the education budget is younger people.

Well 124 million dollars will still be spent in adult and community education. What I’ve said is we’re going to focus on literacy, numeracy, language, foundation skills – those courses that will lead on to employment. We’re still in an economic recession, there are people out there, particularly young people, who are the most vulnerable, they are the most likely to lose their jobs and the least ones likely to get jobs.

PAUL Yes, but night classes in schools of course as adults – migrants, refugees adults trying to improve their lot – the strugglers.

ANNE Some of them are, some of them are hobby courses courses like belly dancing, ukulele playing. We’ve got courses like pilates and yoga – I’ve attended those classes myself. The average age of people attending those night classes is about 46. What we’re saying I had a half billion debt from the previous government to find in tertiary education what we’re saying is we’re going to put those tax dollars into supporting our young people through the recession.

Tolley said that English language classes will remain and, pointed out what seems to escape many of the critics, that schools will still be able to offer other classes on a user pays basis.

She also countered the criticism about taking money from Adult Community Education while funding private schools.

Economically, private schools save the State system money. I’m looking at a small private school at the moment that’s probably going to close – wants to integrate – currently costs the State around $65,000 a year. If it integrates and comes into the State network it’s going to cost $380,000 a year which is an enormous difference.

That argument might not sway people who are ideologically opposed to private education and think they should be self-supporting. But if it costs the state less to keep them going than to bring them, or their pupils, into the state system it makes sense to take the least expensive option.


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