It was as if the cavalry had come galloping in: Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins enthused that the largest shipment of Pfizer vaccines yet has arrived two days ahead of schedule.
The shipment of 150,000 doses touched down late in Auckland at the weekend.
Hipkins acknowledged how close the country had come to running out of the vaccine. New Zealand had distributed nearly all of its supply of the Pfizer vaccine in storage, giving DHBs enough stock to last until Wednesday.
“The early arrival means no DHB will run out of vaccine. Teams have been working tirelessly to ensure vaccine doses have been getting to the right places to honour all existing appointments, and they’ve done a fantastic job.”
In another statement, this time as Minister of Education, Hipkins announced that yet another group of people was being exempt from the border rules that – we are led to believe – protect New Zealanders by carefully regulating who can come here and under what conditions.
The need for these rules being strictly applied becomes more acute when the vaccination programme is faltering. Continue reading “Hipkins is chuffed as more vaccine arrives – but is he immune from Seymour’s needling about the doses required in the year ahead?”
Is the smooth run for the Ardern government coming to an end? It is still riding high in the polls, but almost imperceptibly the mood appears to be changing.
Jacinda Ardern may still be enjoying a status few other prime ministers have attained but the fallibility of some of her ministers is coming more clearly into focus.
More particularly, where the government won so much kudos in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it now seems to have lost its magic touch.
Ardern herself appears to be becoming more defensive, pulling out of her regular slot on the Mike Hosking ZB programme.
The latest lockdowns accentuated the hardship inflicted on business, particularly in Auckland, and the rollout of the Covid vaccination programme has been disappointingly slow. Continue reading “Lockdowns and the slow rollout of vaccines look likely to take their toll on the PM’s popularity”
The Government says it is “changing its approach to teacher recruitment” as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue,” by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching”.
It sounds like this means the bar for entry into the teacher profession.
Announcing this today, Education Minister Chris Hipkins recalled the Ardern government – on taking office – was faced with “a teacher supply crisis”.
A shortage of teachers, in other words.
Over the past three years, $135 million has been pumped into “a range of teacher supply initiatives” (or initiatives to recruit more teachers).
These include hiring teachers from overseas and Hipkins notes that teachers were given the biggest pay rises in a decade “to ensure that we have high-quality teachers in our classrooms”.
How lowering the bar for entry not result in the quality being lowered too is a matter for conjecture. Continue reading “Recruitment rules for teachers are being relaxed because they don’t rate as highly at the border as film crews and yachties”
James Shaw has set a new standard for ministerial conduct in the way he has performed over the allocation of $11.7m of taxpayer money for a privately-owned Green school in Taranaki.
The Green School was one of 150 projects getting a grant from a $3bn fund— the shovel-ready infrastructure fund – and Shaw was willing to put them all at risk.
An email to government ministers and the Treasury from Shaw’s office included a stark ultimatum:
“Minister Shaw won’t sign this briefing until the Green School in Taranaki is incorporated”. Continue reading “Apologies galore from the errant Shaw – but what about an apology to the taxpayer?”
Cold, hard cash settled the teachers’ dispute, even though there had been many high-minded claims from the union over teachers leaving the profession because of the stress of the job, and the lack of classroom support.
Even in the wake of the settlement some leaders within the profession were wailing the new pay scales would do little to attract fresh talent into the profession.
And let’s face it: that’s what NZ schools need.
There are still enormous gaps in the education system between high-performing schools and those at the lower end of the scale. Critics say standards in NZ schools fall far below those in advanced economies like Singapore and Japan. Continue reading “Head of the NZEI is proud of pay lift but principals are prickly on the parity issue”
The Point of Order Trough Monitor has drawn attention to a fresh batch of handouts from the public purse, reminding us that the Provincial Growth Fund isn’t the only trough in the capital.
Fair to say, in the case of Education Minister Chris Hipkin, the press statement which triggered the trough monitor related to the government’s spending on tertiary fees in the past year.
The statement was deftly crafted to camouflage the cost to taxpayers. Rather, it brayed that first-year students have been spared the repayment burden that would have resulted from hundreds of millions of dollars in loan borrowing.
On the other hand, Winston Peters unabashedly has announced fresh handouts from a fund in his Racing ministerial bailiwick and encouraged racing clubs to apply for a place at the next serving from this trough. Continue reading “Yes, there’s lots of money in the PGF – but keep an eye on all the other troughs”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has headed for Washington for the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank, as well as for talks with other finance ministers and senior US government officials.
Despite the darkening cloud on the global economy Robertson is gung-ho about the state of the NZ economy, although he concedes that, as an outward-facing export nation,
“ … NZ is not immune to this global uncertainty, and we have to bear that in mind as we transition to a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy”.
In Parliament before his departure for Washington he cited reports which indicate the NZ economy continues to out-perform its international peers. Continue reading “Budget surpluses are Robertson’s aim but well-being pressures will test his prowess”
If Education Minister Chris Hipkins is overcome by an urge to join his cabinet colleagues in overseas travel but doesn’t have a good reason, we suggest he visits a state school in one of London’s poorest boroughs.
Forty-one of this school’s students have been offered a place at Oxford and Cambridge this year.
This rivals the admission rates of some of the top-performing private schools across the UK, according to the BBC
Brampton Manor is a state school in Newham in east London.
Nearly all of the students who received Oxbridge offers are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds; two-thirds will be the first in their families to attend university.
Half of them are on free school meals. Continue reading “Why Hipkins should study the formula for a London state school’s remarkable academic success”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has had a good run this year, with the economy performing well and the government’s books in excellent shape.
Despite ministers splashing out cash in every direction, the half-year economic and fiscal update (out this week) may even offer the Finance Minister scope for a bit more spending in the years ahead, without endangering his self-imposed goal of sustainable surpluses .
But a shadow may be beginning to emerge from this apparently cloudless sky. It lies in the reports from all those reviews the government called for in its first months of office. Continue reading “The reports are coming in – and they bring fresh challenges for the Ardern Govt”
More than 50% of chief executives in public service departments for the first time are women, the Government proudly proclaimed this week.
Seventeen of the 33 public service department chief executive posts are filled by women, including acting roles. That’s 52%, up from 14, or 44%, at 30 June 2018.
“This is an outstanding achievement,” Chris Hipkins said.
Hipkins, Minister of State Services, then noted that in addition to meeting this milestone, more women CEs
” … have been appointed to larger jobs.
“Their average job size has increased by 15% since 2016 and the job size gap with their male colleagues has narrowed to 6%, compared with a 27% gap in 2016.” Continue reading “The case for filling public service leadership posts with women – then let’s look at the All Blacks”