It Seems the Novopay Worm Has Turned

I was driving to school this morning and something amazing happened. The Ministry of Education ripped in to Talent2. Some of you usual readers will be a bit stunned. What? The ministry? And I say to you, “Yes! That very same ministry you are thinking of!”

First things first. The item I was listening to on Morning Report happened just before the 7.30am news. As a programme the seem to have been doing just as well as Campbell Live with their extended coverage of the ongoing payroll issue debacle catastrophe. The most important thing to mention about the interview today. No Lesley Longstone. No Craig Foss. No Hekia Parata. The woman interviewed was a “Group Manager (I am unclear on what one of these people does – manager suggests some kind of control? Maybe of a group?)” at the ministry Rebecca Elvy. I suggest you listen because the language being used by Elvy marks what I believe is a sea-change in the way the Ministry of Education is talking about Novopay operators Talent2.

In brief:

  1. There will be an independent inquiry into the Novopay system early in the new year. The word ‘independent’ excites me. Hopefully they will look into everything. 
  2. Elvy was critical of John Rawlinson from Talent2 whose spin-speak last week implied that it school admin staff were partly responsible. That comment from Rawlinson infuriated the DP at my school who is now the official Novopay data entry clerk (she pretty much does nothing else now).
  3. At no point during the entire interview did I have to carefully think about what Elvy was saying and quickly translate it into plain English before she started on her next answer. She sounded normal. Completely normal like she’d never talked to anyone in PR ever. This is in stark contrast to her big boss Hekia Parata who has the ability to make people want to rip their ears off because all she needs to do is answer “yes” or “no” but has instead said something like, “Insofar as my advisors have informed me, and as we look forward to the future ahead, and review any past futures that have yet to occur, it is becoming evident to me that it would be premature to answer your question without further looking into the issues that the honourable member has raised in a way that would allow me to answer the question forthrightly. Or words to that effect Mr. Speaker.”

So finally, after months of trying to defend their installation of a system that just can’t handle the job it was sold to do, the Ministry of Education has given up their line of excuses. About time. There is nothing worse in politics than a politician or public servant trying to defend something that is going utterly pear-shaped.

Take John Banks for example. He came back into parliament at the end of last year after doing a secret deal with John Key (which both men defended) and then had to defend himself against all sorts of drip-fed wonders from that fantastic German party-boy Kim Dotcom. The thing was if he’d just come clean about what was said on the teapot tape AND just told us everything about Dotcom right at the front. Instead he got on his high horse, defended his position and has ultimately come out of the whole think looking like an ignorant, rich, out-of-touch imbecile who cares about John Banks and nobody else. It’s always the cover-up that gets them.

Anyway, back to Novopay. The first course of action the ministry took was to try to defend the system. Enhancing the positive – we’ve had over 80,000 successful payments, rather than the negative of nearly 10,000 errors. Now they’ve gone the other way. They must be thanked – criticised for taking so long, but thanked for finally doing the right thing. Although in saying that Rebecca Elvy has given a statement to John Campbell which has highlighted the fact that, “92,000 payments went through successfully,” so maybe I spoke too soon.

Novopay is a complete nonsense. It was mis-sold to the Ministry of Education by an Australian company who believed their own PR hype and thought they were up to the job, but clearly weren’t. We found out on the weekend that the new NZ Post payroll is operated by Talent2 and that also collapsed in a screaming heap as soon as it was launched with problems continuing for months. The fact that this didn’t alert people at the Ministry of Education before they accepted the Talent2 tender is beyond me. Mind you, Wellington is a pretty big city and all those government departments and SOE head offices must be miles from each other…

The people we elect to spend our tax money need to be a bit more careful. Don’t just pick the cheapest option.

But a big thanks needs go to the retail banks of New Zealand who are featured on Campbell Live tonight as offering free overdrafts to teachers who’ve missed payments or gone into the red because of the debacle. At least someone is helping. It would be nice if that someone was from the government.

Hopefully we all get our end of year pay when that comes through in a couple of weeks.

Good luck everyone!

Mr B.



Ennunsiashun with Hon. Craig Foss

Hello there,

Until last week I was an unknown mid-bench National mute, but thanks to the Campbell Live journalists ambushing me with their “questioning” I am now slightly more known to some people.

While my auto-spell-checker is on I’d also like to point out a few things about the English language. Many of you may have heard during that interview, on many different occasions I referred to teacher “renumeration.” I would like to offer a small clarification to the many left-wing bloggers and Year 7 literacy students as to my use of this word.

I refer my definition of “renumeration” – the pay someone gets when they work. This is an actual word. As I’ve just pointed out. And I will keep pointing this out until it has entered the vernacular. I’ve learnt well from Stephen Joyce’s maxim: If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes National Party policy and accepted dogma.

I was talking to his Lordship John Key the other day. He walked up to me in Bellamy’s and said, “Gi’ay Fossco! Hekia still shafting you with the Novopay rubbish?” Before I could answer he walked off laughing at my “gay business suit” and my “gay shoes” and my “gay mood of happiness.” Over the years he has also taught me well with his liberal use of vowel blends and dispensing of several consonants per sentence.

Anyway… here’s a few definitions from the Fosscinary.

Pissgetti: an Italian noodle dish with tomato sauce.

Lickrish: a delicious aniseed treat.

Hostibal: where you go if you’re sick, injured or break something.

Ambleance: a van that takes you to the hostibal.

Proply: how I speak.

I hope that’s cleared up a few things for you. I’m off to Beckbinchers now to catch up with my old mate Dave ‘I have every confidence’ Cunliffe and his best pal Paddy ‘why won’t you comment?’ Gower.

See you all next time.


It’s All About Novopay

Recently I’ve been giving weekly updates detailing what’s been going on in the media coverage of education issues. This week, due to a range of factors (mostly around the writing of reports and house tidying associated with a move to the South Island), I don’t really have that much time to be as comprehensive as I’d like.

With this Wednesday being a payday for teachers, the Novopay issues continued. Campbell Live have continued their campaign to highlight the vast range of issues that the Novopay system is facing. If you just go to the Campbell Live page on the 3 news website, well over 50% of the stories are about Novopay. From people not being paid, to massive breaches of privacy, all manner of errors were highlighted throughout the week. Lesley Longstone again fronted for the Ministry. Associate Education Minister Craig Foss had to be ambushed at parliament after he refused an interview. Hekia Parata has not been seen or heard from on the matter this week. Neither has Novopay operators Talent2 – who made it clear that they were making no comment. 

The week ended with the NZEI issuing an ultimatum to the ministry – fix the problem or it would take legal action. After missing the original Friday deadline the government has now said they will meet with the union.

The excellent coverage of the issue by Campbell Live is in stark contrast to the state broadcaster TVNZ whose Close Up programme featured no items on Novopay last week.

Expect this story to continue as we head up to the final pay of the year just before Christmas.

And lastly this weekend, hot off the presses 10 minutes ago: At their conference Labour have voted to scrap national standards when they return to power.

It’s back to packing up the house for me.

Mr B


Weekly Update on Hold

Hi team,

Those of you following me over the last month or so might be expecting a weekly update this coming Sunday. Fortunately for me, but not so for you, I have to head off to a couple of job interviews at the start of the week so I’m going to do a quick update tonight. You probably won’t hear from me until I get back mid-next week-ish.

Firstly I want to heap praise on John Campbell, Lachlan Forsythe and the team at Campbell Live for really getting stuck in to the Ministry of Education over their various issues – mainly the Christchurch closures / reorganisation and the continued issues with Novopay.

Here are the links to this weeks stories:

Christchurch school closures too soon? A look at the population growth projections from Statistics New Zealand as well as a look at a couple of schools due to close despite being right next to massive new subdivisions.

Novopay problems: this story is from last week. It’s teachers and employees talking about their incorrect pay.

And I’m just watching one while I type this featuring a Ministry of Education email conversation with the Christchurch City Council. Upshot: the Ministry is telling the council not to release information they have in response to an Official Information Act request. I will update with a link. Which I have now done.

Campbell Live is also having a special programme on the Novopay payroll system tomorrow night. If you’re a teacher I strongly recommend this item.

More as it comes to hand.

Mr B

STOP THE PRESS: Another full show on Novopay. No link is up on the Cambell Live webpage yet but the item is well worth a look. It’s followed by an in-depth interview with Secretary of Education Lesley Longstone. She must have the toughest job in the world at the moment since nobody has heard from Hekia Parata in a couple of weeks.


More Novopay Rubbish

If you’re a relief teacher (like me), you’ll be opening your pay-slip this evening and wondering if you are getting paid the full amount for your teaching efforts over the last fortnight. I’m hopeful I have been since most of that fortnight was school holidays and I’m not expecting Novopay to pay me for cleaning the mould off my bedroom ceiling (see post from 2 weeks ago).

If you are not a teacher you won’t really have any idea what or who Novopay are. Let me break it down (not in the hip-hop styles though). National-led regime want to save money. Education Ministry highlight payroll as possible source of savings. Tender put out. Novopay hired for $30 million. Novopay now pays teacher, support staff and principal’s wages.

Here is a link to a Campbell Live item highlighting the issues Novopay has created. If you don’t want to watch, that’s fine. Reporter Lachlan Forsyth visited a couple of schools who told him about their issues. One woman has spent a total of 40 hours on hold – she could be working on other stuff. I know our Deputy Principal has become a payroll clerk who sometimes gets out and about to say hi, but not very often.

The other telling thing from this interview is the fact that the system, that pays around 110,000 people every fortnight was not tested before it was implemented because the education payroll is “too complex.”

This is complete nonsense. How could they bring in something this massive in without testing it first? Oh, that’s right, they’re a government department.

The last thing that annoys me about this whole Novopay debacle  is the PR spin rubbish that is spouting from the mouths of the ministry (and the minister if she ever dares open her mouth again). Rather than admitting many, many schools and staff are suffering around New Zealand they are just accentuating the positive. “We have less than 100 errors in pay this time, and next time we expect it to be less.” Weasel words. Nobody seems to be able to admit anything these days. They all want to hide behind the positive spin fed to them by the former journo they hired. It’s very, very poor.

Not, however, as bad as John Key taking time out of his morning interview on Firstline to attack the person who discovered the huge hole in the Ministry of Social Development database. He decided to do this rather than accepting some kind of responsibility for his ultimately poor stewardship of his ministers. Just plain useless. Can we have some kind of national standards for politicians and central government bureaucrats please?

Until next time.

Mr. Boon

ADDENDUM: Here’s a link to a Radio New Zealand news item from this morning regarding Novopay frustrations.