The Right Talk, The Leader's view
23 September 2003
Education Paper Released
Did you know that our only national measures of literacy and numeracy are done by international agencies?
The Labour Government thinks it's too politically incorrect to do our own testing. But today I released the National
Party education discussion document "Schools of Excellence" which proposes national testing. New Zealand's best kids are
among the best in the world, but our bottom 20% are in the third world on literacy and numeracy. A recent study of
schools in South Auckland shows that if teachers use consistent data to change their teaching methods, even our most
disadvantaged kids can achieve. We're also signalling a tough line on truancy - 15,000 school age kids don't go to
school. We'll encourage parent choice by abolishing zoning and encouraging independent and integrated schools. The
education document is now being taken on the road to every school and we're keen to find out what you think. Speeches by
Bill English and Nick Smith, as well as a schedule of meetings around the country can be found at: http://www.national.org.nz/
Leave Smacking Alone
It's time to stop looking for excuses over the tragic murder of Coral Burrows. Parents need encouragement for the hard
work they do raising and disciplining children. They certainly deserve better than the offensive way Steve Maharey and
Helen Clark this week made the link between smacking children and child murder. Get real - parents do their best and
don't need a gallery of pseudo experts telling them how to do their job. As an unqualified father of six, supervising
children on unlicensed premises, without a social worker or my own teddy bear, I believe the current law provides a
balance between the realities of parenting and the ideal childhood.
Foreshore and Seabed
The gap between Maori expectations and public opinion on the foreshore and seabed debate is large. A National team
attended the Banks Peninsula hui, and will attend the final hui in Auckland. It's striking how the iwi speakers see the
issue as constitutional - time and again they describe their iwi as a partner of the government. Maori are pushing hard
for compensation and for co-management, a place at the table where the rules are made, alongside the Government.
Claimants have in mind extensive customary rights, and they have an activist Maori Land Court to back them up. The big
issue is how the Government will deal with conflicts between customary rights and public rights To read my latest speech
on the issue visit: http://www.national.org.nz/wcontent.asp?PageID=100017246
Anderton To Play Favourites
Government cronyism is set to reach a new low with suggestions that Cabinet will soon consider a new process, which
would give Jim Anderton the ability to by-pass the RMA for infrastructure projects the Government deems worthy. This
includes private as well as public projects. The National Party believes Labour should fix the Resource Management Act
for all rather than create sweetheart projects of Mr Anderton's choosing. Any such process to fast-track resource
consents is wide open to abuse and corruption. It's most worrying because Helen Clark's Government has a history of
rewarding and protecting those it deems are friendly, while punishing those it disagrees with.
National believes the Government should be taking an even hand to the Resource Management Act and fixing the process to
make it easier for everyone, rather than a few chosen favourites.
The mild-mannered Taranaki/King Country MP is due to make his first appearance in the Wellington District Court on a
charge of disorderly behaviour at 9am this Friday (September 26).
Shane Ardern will be pleading not guilty.
The charge was laid after he drove Myrtle the tractor up Parliament's steps during a flatulence tax protest, and
following harsh public criticism by both the Speaker of the House and Helen Clark.
Farmers in Taranaki and the King Country are putting together a fighting fund for the MP's defence, while the National
Party is also backing Mr Ardern's right to represent his rural constituency.
The issue is far from over, with more questions still to come about political interference from a Government that has
one standard for its own and another standard for everyone else.