ACT leader and Minor Secretary for Education David Seymour has clarified the half-million dollar payout to a key ally for the National Party chartnership schools policy. The $500,000 payout, made by the government to the E Tipu E Rea Trust, a new body set up to promote and support the controversial schooling model, was revealed by various media outlets earlier this week.
Seymour, who has also championed the policy, held a press conference today to clarify the payment. MyThinks was there and we have the transcript.
SEYMOUR: Hello everyone. Thank you all for coming. It’s good to see so many people following the recent ACT Party conference held in the lounge of my Epsom flat. I just wanted to clear a few things up surrounding the confusion about this money. This was a payment of $500,000 dollars to a charity looking at promoting our wonderful chartnership school concept. It just so happens they are many of the same people who voted National and got loads of selfies with John Key the last time he was in South Auckland in 2009. That’s entirely coincidental. Like running into your friend at the mall when you are both buying satsumas, for example. Are you expecting us to give money just to chartnership school operators who vote Labour and Greens? That’s just ridiculous. There are none of those anywhere in the world. I would also like to point out that this National-led government, with its strong partners in ACT, UnitedFuture and the Māori Party, have consistently said it’s not what you do it’s how you do it. We are leading by example giving out hundreds of thousands of dollars to anybody willing to promote our policies. That, quite frankly, is common sense. If you have billions of dollars at your disposal, why wouldn’t you flick a few hundy to some blokes who agree with the educational policies we have. And… who asked you anyway. Shut up. Just shut up. Nanananananaaannnannanaaa I’m not listening, not listening.
So thank you all for coming. I need to head off now because I’ve got a Year 12 Geography test to do, so thanks very much.
Greetings again everybody. Under-secretary for stuff David Seymour here just with a few words of advice for any budding new MPs out there.
As you may or may not know, all the ministers in the latest Key government were sworn in under a blood moon this week. As you might suspect, there were the usual rituals of swearing an oath to Queen Elizabeth and sacrificing a baby goat, but the most exciting bit was receiving our ‘to-do list’ from Mr Key.
There was only one thing on my to-do list. If anyone asks Ms Parata about charter schools or privatisation of poor schools in poor areas I’m to immediately jump up and say how excited I am about the ACT Party’s charter school ideas that we’ve managed to sell to the government. Mr Key says it’s important that the New Zealand public are clear in understanding that National’s charter school policy is not their charter school policy.
That’s absolutely fine by me. Technically, since the ACT Party doesn’t really exist, any situation where the ACT Party talks about itself in this way is most exciting. Our major and very generous benefactors – the New Zealand taxpayer (without whom we’d be up a certain creek with no paddle, no boat and completely unable to keep our head above the sludge) – really want to hear what we have to say. I mean the ACT Party received over 0.65% of the vote at the last election. That’s hundreds and hundreds of votes. It’s a mandate.
Speaking of mandates, I am very much looking forward to my first cabinet meeting this week. Of course, I’m not allowed in the big room at the big table. That’s reserved for Mr Key and Mr English and all the other people who have real jobs in this administration. No, there’s an extra table for me and Peter Dunne outside the Cabinet room. We get to colour in pictures of Sir Robert while we wait for Mr Key to come out and tell us what to say next.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from Mr Key this year is that selfies are the single most important thing for securing votes. I was door-knocking in Epsom the other day (just in case people had forgotten about me in the two weeks since the election) and imagine my surprise when I was greeting by a small gaggle of private school children all dressed as well-known feminist Miley Cyrus. After spending several minutes laughing about how out of touch the Labour Party is and how amazing alcopops are as an afternoon aperitif, we went our separate ways. I was humbled by the reception and was promised several hundred votes at the 2020 elections.
Oh well… I’d better be off. I’ve got several hundred doors to knock on today. Epsom is a large electorate and as National Party MP for Epsom it is hugely important to me to get out there and talk to as many pre-ball parties as possible.
Hello New Zealand. I’m David Seymour – the new ACT Party member of parliament for the safe National seat of Epsom. I am hugely excited about representing both the interests of my constituents and those of the six people who still believe ACT to be a vibrant political force. Our combined party vote of 0.7% shows just how relevant we are.
What an exciting week it has been. I came to parliament on Tuesday morning not really knowing what to expect and who would have believed that parliament would be what it is. The ACT Party offices are adorned with some beautiful artwork, some of it quite modern and not to my taste, but I do understand that it is very good so I am happy to have it above my desk no matter how naked the subject is. The plant in the corner is a bit dead, but I am utterly convinced it can be nurtured back to health if I prune it at the base of the trunk.
After a lengthy 10 minute caucus meeting where I enjoyed my own company and talked about me, the ACT juggernaut went out into the corridors of parliament to soak up the atmosphere. As I walked near the Beehive I could hear both the maniacal laughter coming from the National Party offices and the tortuous screams coming from the Labour end of parliament. It really is an exciting time if you are not Labour.
I was also excited to hear during the week that John Key and his National Party have decided to allow me the honour of serving as one of minister Hekia Parata’s many minions with an associate education portfolio. I have long admired Ms Parata for her unwavering commitment to education policies that have wreaked havoc in so many jurisdictions around the world. Her abilities to speak for minutes at a time without uttering a single word of phrase of note is legendary among those of us who never wish to say anything. She is a true shining light in the coal-mine of indifference.
How nice of National to offer me this position. They didn’t have to. I was happy to sit in parliament and accept a range of anonymous donations from my wealthy benefactors, but to now be part of the parliamentary machine and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax-free cash at no expense to our party is truly humbling. I would also like a new car, a gym membership and some of those little soaps and shampoos you get when you stay in a fancy hotel. They always leave me smelling quite nice.
So it is with excited hands and an indefatigable dedication to my job as Epsom MP for the National Party that I enter parliament. I promise to spend the next three years as your MP utterly committed to doing everything I am told to do by the National Party and the various tobacco, alcohol and food groups I actually represent.
Greetings and salutations to you all.
I am John Archibald Banks and I’m here to clear the air following my sentencing yesterday on trumped-up and, quite frankly, ludicrous charges of electoral fraud.
Let me categorically state here and now, for the record, that I, John Archibald Banks, am not guilty of this heinous crime. It is quite clear from the evidence presented to the court that I asked for the $50,000 donation from the unnamed German helicopter owner to be cleft in twain and clearly did not read my electoral finances return before signing it thereby creating some level of plausible deniability. As fraudulent as this appears, I am not guilty. I know I’m not guilty because constitutional law professor Michelle Boag says I’m not guilty. Therefore, I am not guilty.
It is utterly outrageous that I will be confined to my luxury Remuera villa from the time I usually get home at night until the time I usually leave in the morning. This is clearly an infringement on my basic human rights. It also goes to show just how biased the justice system is to elderly down-trodden multi-millionaire white men such as myself.
I would like to say at this time that I have some astounding new evidence that I will blow the lid off both this case and all the cabbage boats in New Zealand. Many people have been asking me what this brand-new evidence is. Why has it taken so long to come to light? Why didn’t you have it in your hands during your trial? You could have given yourself a more solid defence.
Yes indeed. All of this is true. What’s important to remember is that although I am seen by many to be a failed talk-show host come losing mayor come absolute joke of a politician, this evidence will be drip fed in such a way that my very good friends at the New Zealand Herald will have made up their own story about David Cunliffe long before everyone else realises that I’m absolutely full of shit.
I think you’ll all agree it’s an excellent strategy.
Banksie is back, baby. You better believe it.
Reports done. Portfolios done. Learning conferences tomorrow and Tuesday. This means that the school year is half over and I have a wee bit more time to rant, rave and rail against the dominant neoliberal hegemony.
According to the last few polls the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, funded in part thanks to generous patrons who’ve not lived in the real world since the 1980s, are currently topping 0.4% in the latest 3 News/Reid Research poll. That doesn’t mean much in the MMP environment other than nobody wants to vote for them and anyone who does will be doing so under much duress and with a fair amount of bile tickling the back of their throats.
Imagine being a National Party vote having to vote for ACT or the good old “zero percenters” UnitedFuture in September. You would just feel horrible (possibly not as horrible as all those progressive voters from the Green & Labour side who will find themselves having to vote for National to counter the tactical voting from the other side).
As the election campaign kicks into gear we’re getting a number of policy announcements. As you would expect, I will focus on critiquing the education side of things.
If you watched the news yesterday you will have noticed some coverage of ACT’s education policy announcement. Jamie Whyte, the new leader of this desheveled group of over-rich 80s throwbacks, has announced a three-pronged attack which they will use when negotiating their next coalition deal with National (far be it from me to point out their current polling puts them at about a tenth of the margin of error so surely their main focus should actually be increasing their vote to the point where they rate more highly than the party that wants to legalise doobs, not talking coalition deals after they get into parliament).
Back to their three-pronged attack. More charter schools, give state schools the chance to become charter schools and they’ve also brought up the age-old subject of “vouchers.”
Someone pointed out yesterday on twitter that the ACT education policy seemed to be designed to increase house prices in Epsom. Indeed.
Here’s what Mr Whyte said:
I expect that a large portion would choose to be free and that we would see dramatic improvements in the performance of schools, especially those teaching children from poor families.
Giving schools the “freedom” to choose to be charter schools? Excuse me… schools already have a huge amount of freedom. At my school we have to comply with the Education Act, but I and my fellow teachers get to do pretty much what we want – free of any government intervention. We create the learning for our kids, with the support of our local community, backed up our… should I say it…. school charter. Yes. That’s right. Our school, our government school, has a charter. It’s our raison d’être.
Dear right-wing. All schools have a charter. We are all charter schools. We are all funded by the government.
But joking about joke parties aside, ACT’s education policy won’t work. He’s saying we would see dramatic improvements in the performance of schools. Where’s your proof? Where is your proof that privatising education is going to lead to dramatic improvements in school performance. Here?
It’s very easy for the rich, white-haired men like the tens of those I saw at the ACT meeting where the policy was announced, to move between areas. Rich people are able to go school hunting and house hunting. They have the freedom, thanks to their wealth, to do as they please. New iPhone, new house, new school, new trip to Club Med etc.
Unfortunately the “poor” that Whyte so colloquially refers to in the above quote don’t have the freedom that allows them to choose. They can’t just sell up and move to Epsom or Khandallah or wherever – if they even own their own home. No. Freedom of choice is much easier if you have freedom of cash.
It’s called social mobility. The ability to move upwards from your current lot to the lot of those higher up the class structure / food chain than you. Swimming against the “trickle down” theory the likes of Whyte have been spouting for years.
Social mobility is a lot harder, if not impossible, if you don’t have money or are not white (like Whyte – pun definitely intended).
I don’t begrudge those who “have.” What I have a problem with is those who “have” (like Whyte) who then decide that everyone in the country has the freedom I have. If you live in Mangere and work a couple of jobs to provide for your family you are not going to head out house hunting on the weekend because the school over the harbour is “better.”
Alternatively, could you see the likes of David Seymour selling up his Remuera home and moving to Otara because the local primary school is having great results on their National Standards achievement data?
No. Neither of these things are happening because the neoliberal education policy of privatisation, vouchers and “choice” is about funding the educational experiments of the superrich. Billionaires design these policies, not teachers. Billionaires then lobby politicians, via healthy donations (expecting absolutely nothing in return of course) because they would love the free cash subsidy a charter school gives.
And that, people, is what the ACT education policy announcement is about. Government subsidies for business.
Where’s the Taxpayer’s Union when you need them?
3 News Reid Research Poll (latest): 3 News, June 2014
I’m not going to source the NZ Herald article. A link is enough (that’s a protest after last weeks nonsense)