Thursday, 22 December 2011

That light at the end of the tunnel is sounding its horn

Now that the dust from the collapse of the Laboured Party has begun to clear and their new bright hope has been anointed, we can see a few things a little better.

One such thing is the brighter future Jianqi and his band of merry revellers offered us once they regained access to the slush fund – I mean treasury benches.

Education is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? At least it can be if you can actually get a decent one. The National Disgrace has given us a glimpse of what the brighter future they have in mind for education is.

Jianqi and I agree on one thing; our current education system is failing far too many people. However when it comes to fixing that system we clearly have a different idea about that. For example I wouldn’t have thought a positive way to fix the education system would be to appoint a disgraced school principal to a specialist advisory role with the Ministry of Education. I especially would not if that unprincipled principal had tried to cover up some naughty noodlings of her husband with an underage pupil and was still subject to disciplinary action. What sort of a lesson is that?

I also wouldn’t have thought it a great lesson for the then Education Minister Anne Folly to lie to media about it, either. But hey, the Ministry of Ed knows best and as they very cleverly explain it; Folly was asked if they had a suspended principal working in the role, but as Mrs Mutu had resigned from her role she wasn’t technically suspended at that time. I guess I just keep forgetting it’s a dynamic environment!

Charter schools are not something I would have put forward as a fix for our education system either. This is partly because until a couple of weeks ago I had not heard of charter schools. I suspect I am not alone in this and I am pretty sure that if we were to conduct a poll of every New Zealander who was eligible to vote at the last election we would find very few who had. I am equally sure almost none would have heard so much as a whisper of charter schools during the election campaign.

This raises a couple of questions: What is a charter school and why the secrecy?

In answer to the first of these, as far as I can tell a charter school (in the USA, anyway) is a school that is funded by both the state and possibly private funders. It does not have to adhere to the national curriculum, but cannot charge tuition fees as it is still a part of the state system. I don’t know how accurate that is, nor what is envisaged by Jianqi and Heck Yeah and Banquo, but I’m buggered if I can see what it would achieve. I have heard talk of it picking up the kids who fall through the cracks in the current system, but surely a re-jig of the current system and regional support services assisting the schools would be better. Why re-invent the wheel, especially if that wheel has had a habit of falling off wherever it has previously been fitted?

As for the secrecy; you can only conclude there is something about them they know we won’t like. They must have been afraid it would have made some of their voters nervous, because if it was such a whizz-bang great idea, why weren’t they boring us to death with it all through the election campaign?

It has also become blindingly clear that Jianqi and his government are hell-bent on passing legislation through OUR parliament to please other nations. A really creepy example of this is the NZ Food Bill.

I am working my way through the ramifications of this and I can tell you it is one helluva doorstop. So far I have picked up that ‘Food Safety Officers’ would be given the power of search without the need for a warrant and the Minister may adopt a joint food standard (for example aligning us with some other country’s regulations). There is a little waffle about him ‘being satisfied adequate consultation has taken place under the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (Australia)’. However it could just as easily be rammed through during a holiday period or rushed through under urgency with the excuse it was ‘vital to trade.’ They’ve already tied us into Australia’s medicines legislation and I really don’t think we want to surrender any more of what little sovereignty we appear to have.

I also notice the Minister will be able to designate some standards for New Zealand only while others will link in with Australia’s. Now that should make things blindingly clear – having two different Acts to keep an eye on! I have yet to find any references to seeds as has been claimed by opponents of the Bill, but as I said it is a weighty tome and I’ve barely scraped it’s slimy sides. However it is quite apparent the intention is to regulate us a lot more and there could be some tricky issues surrounding the harmless bartering of goods with neighbours. In any event; I think this Bill has enough things wrong with it for it to be a worry and I urge everyone to sign the petition that is trying to stop it in its tracks. You can find more about the Bill at

And finally the brightest future appears to have been saved as usual by the National Disgrace Government for those in our society who are most vulnerable – and no I’m not talking about those struggling CEO’s like the one at Christchurch City Council.

I am of course talking about the children of the nation – those who come under the ‘care and protection’ of that wonderful generous and efficient organisation run by Paula Bumfat. This week we saw how much Bumfat cares as she faced the nation, upper lip trembling to try and explain how it wasn’t her fault or that of the wonderful people at CYFS that a 9-year-old Auckland girl was given a taste of Abu Ghraib in the Waitakeres.

And of course it wasn’t. We all know that a monster a.k.a. the child’s mother inflicted all the injuries and has been jailed this week for those acts. But what should have happened is that various individuals from the 25 agencies that had been dealing with this family since the child was a few months old should be sharing her cell for their abject failure to come to grips with what was plain for anyone to see.

Bumfat was blubbing about how ‘manipulative’ the woman and her partner were and wants us to believe they managed to cleverly pull the wool over the eyes of all the so-called experts and even the Minister herself.

That is just ten foot deep bullshit. Granted many of the social workers involved WOULD have been taken in; but not because the woman was so smart. How smart can an uneducated dropkick with a bunch of kids who have all been taken away from her at one time or another and who probably only has a vague notion of who fathered whom amongst those kids, be? Lets’ face it; she is another scumbag (probably from some sort of local Westie scumbag dynasty) that anyone other than a brain-dead CYFS employee would have sussed out in five minutes. The CYFS personnel aren’t all so stupid, though; some would have been only too aware of what was going on, but too hidebound by ridiculous internal procedures to do anything meaningful (or timely) about it. As for Bumfat, she like most useless Ministers would simply have seen what she wanted to see. The scummy beater should get some credit for asking for help (albeit the serious abuse was already occurring), but letters like that need to go to opposition spokespeople. Sitting ministers never do anything that might uncover a slip up on their watch.

It is unfortunate the new Parliament only sat for the one day and there wasn’t time for the opposition parties to make a meal of Bumfat’s situation. Hopefully they will get together and give her a hard time when they come back next year. And as for the lame report by former ombudsman Mel Smith; stupid shit like better communication between departments and better training are just fatuous school kid comments. The best way to sort that particular department out is to de-politicise the entire health and welfare sector. Only that way will they be able to get the workers focussing on needs rather than political agendas. Professional standards of conduct would need to be raised, so strong and focussed management would be needed to change the slack ‘civil service’ culture that exists today. Finally individuals (and that includes Ministers) would have to be accountable for their actions or lack of them.

So we have already seen a glimpse of this bright new future and I have to say it looks about as dim as those who voted for this lot must have been on November 26. And I haven’t even mentioned the fact Jianqi is still standing in that Egyptian river over asset sales. Let’s hope he doesn’t notice how quickly the waters are rising – until it’s too late.

Have a great Christmas everyone and recharge your batteries for the battering we are in for in 2012. Either that or the battering we will give the government. It’s your choice.

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