Free Press, 23 April 2018
This last week we saw more evidence of the Government putting PR ahead of good policy.
Style over substance
On Friday, Jacinda Ardern was quoted using a Maori proverb at a dinner hosted by the Queen: “What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, the people, the people.”
She implored other Commonwealth leaders to remember their role was to serve and improve the lives of their people.
Serving our people?
Contrast the Prime Minister’s rhetorical flourish with comments her Education Minister has made about charter schools, in which some of our most disadvantaged children have thrived.
“Charter schools are a blight on our educational system”, Chris Hipkins has said. “There is no place for them.”
The PM has no right to claim she is serving New Zealanders when her Government is stripping opportunity away from 1300 mostly Maori and Pasifika students.
Hipkins a no-show
Free Press isn’t surprised that Chris Hipkins didn’t want to show up on Newshub Nation this weekend to defend his indefensible charter school policy.
Union boss Whetu Cormick – standing in for Hipkins – completely failed to make the Government’s case.
A shambolic performance
Cormick wasn’t aware that charter schools mostly employ registered teachers.
He wouldn’t defend the state system’s abysmal record of failure of Maori students.
He couldn’t dispute the fact that charter schools are getting better academic outcomes for students.
Dogma over data
Asked if charter schools were failing Cormick said “it’s too early to tell” and in the next breath admitted “we believe they should be shut down”.
As Lisa Owen put it, the union approach to charter schools is one of ‘dogma over data’.
On the road, in the regions
Last week, ACT Leader David Seymour was in Otorohanga to promote his End of Life Choice Bill and in Taranaki to meet with people affected by the Government’s oil and gas decision.
Destroying an ecosystem
The Taranaki economy is an ecosystem in which businesses are interdependent.
Fitzroy Engineering, whom David visited on Wednesday, depends on the oil and gas industry and employs 400 highly-skilled employees.
By banning new oil and gas exploration, the Government will shatter that ecosystem and will have a much wider impact on the economy than it has so far considered.
Our energy future
The Government – and especially the Greens – like to say that cheap, clean technologies which can fulfil our energy needs are right around the corner.
If the Government is right, the oil and gas industry will have wasted massive resources through its current investments.
If on the other hand the Government is wrong, it will be depriving New Zealand of reliable energy sources which are vital to maintaining our standard of living.
Who should we expect is more likely to be right about our energy future?
The oil and gas industry, which has skin in the game and every incentive to get their investments right? Or former student politicians looking for a PR opportunity?
Only time will tell.