Red Alert

Speaker lines Tolley up

Posted by on May 26th, 2010


As is clear from the clip above there is some history. Labour members are unhappy with the casual approach to facts of some senior government ministers especially at question time. John Key in particular has an Abbott like approach to the truth.

Anne Tolley challenged Sue Moroney’s word when she was in fact quoting Tolley’s own figures. Tolley was just plain wrong but worse she implied that  Sue had made up the figures or used them out of context.

The Speaker has been taking a careful but positive role in trying to get the situation sorted out.

His comments to Tolley led to her apology below. Pretty much ritual humiliation for a Minister. Hopefully she will not have a reckless disregard for for the truth again.

   Below is the Hansard for Sue’s question for those without broadband, – the Speakers intervention towards the end. Will add apology when it is available.
SUE MORONEY (Labour) to the Minister of Education: What advice, if any, did she receive on the range of possible fee increases in early childhood education centres as a result of the changes announced in last week’s Budget; if so, what was that range?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Education) : I was advised that the funding of over half of early childhood education services is unaffected. I have also received advice suggesting that funding reductions to affected centres are likely to be between $8 and $30 for children attending for around 20 hours a week, and around $15 to $40 for a child attending full-time. Fee increases are impossible to predict, because early childhood centres are independent bodies, which set their own fees.

Sue Moroney: Has she seen the estimates from early childhood education providers that show that the cost to parents could be as high as $60 per child per week?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: No, but I have seen estimates from that member predicting the cost to be $60. It is pretty poor maths to multiply the figure for 20 hours by two to make the figure for 40 hours. As I have explained, the subsidy for 40 hours is different from the one the member is quoting. But those services have almost 9 months in which to make the changes they need to make in order to absorb the changes.

Sue Moroney: Does she agree with the statement made by the Minister of Finance, Bill English, about the funding cuts on Television One’s Q+A programme on Sunday, when he said: “Personally, I think providers are unlikely to have to pass it on.”; if so, is she telling kindies and childcare centres to reduce the quality of the education they deliver to children by sacking staff and cutting wages?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Yes, I heard what the Minister of Finance said. This is a particularly well funded sector. It has received treble the amount of funding in the last 5 years. It has received three times the amount of funding for an increase in participation of less than 1 percent-in other words, almost three times more funding for the same amount of children. I think it is unlikely that most centres will pass on those costs, because they are able to change their staffing, they are able to change their services-they are able to do a number of things in order to make those changes.

Louise Upston: What provision was there in last week’s Budget for increasing participation in early childhood education?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Last week’s Budget allocated an addition $91.8 million over 4 years for a package to boost participation of Maori and Pasifika children and children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. This Government recognises that we have to spend our money differently to get better results. This package will build on the very successful intensive, community-focused projects currently under way in Counties-Manukau.

Sue Moroney: Can she confirm that the top two subsidy rates for 20 hours’ early childhood education will be cut from 1 February 2011, dropping the top 20 hours’ early childhood education subsidy rate from $12.45 per child per hour down to $10.88 per child per hour-a broken promise?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I challenge the member’s figures and I challenge the assumption she is making. This Government has made it very clear that we have set early childhood centres an 80 percent target for qualified teachers. In Budget 2010 we are now removing the incentives for centres to go above that 80 percent.

Hon Trevor Mallard: If she is challenging the figures given by Sue Moroney, why did she publish them in her documentation with the Budget?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Because I challenge the context in which those figures were given. Budget 2010 changed the two top rates for subsidies to centres, not the 20 hours.

Sue Moroney: I seek leave to table a document from the Ministry of Education outlining the early childhood education funding changes that shows the top two subsidy levels for 20 hours’ early childhood education being dropped on 1 February 2011.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We now have a problem, and it is one on which we have corresponded and on which I have got into some trouble in the past for challenging answers. But I ask you, Mr Speaker, what an Opposition can do when a Minister challenges figures that she has published and that members are relying on for supplementary questions. We are in a very hard position in trying to hold Ministers to account.

Mr SPEAKER: I accept that the member has raised an issue of real concern. I appreciate his letter to me on the matter, and I am giving it quite a lot of consideration.

I think that what the member did today is exactly what members can do. The member believed that the Minister may have, in his view, challenged figures that he believed to be correct. The member asked a very blunt question, and I think he included the fact that the figures had been included in the Minister’s own statements. That is a pretty powerful thing to put on the record of the House.

Members are not allowed to use points of order to litigate answers, but when a member believes that an answer is incorrect, the member can ask point-blank, in the way that the member did just now, for the Minister to justify the answer or repeat the answer. I want Ministers to listen to this carefully, because concern about the accuracy of answers is an issue that comes up frequently. When a Minister, while answering a supplementary question, gives an answer that may be disputed, it is very hard to argue that the Minister has misled the House, because the circumstance may be one in which the Minister is talking about one issue but throws in a matter that is peripheral to it and may include information that another member believes is wrong. But when a member-and I want notice to be taken of this-questions a Minister particularly over information given, and in reply to a very clear question gets a repeat of the same information, which can later be shown to be false, then that is a rather different situation. That is starting to get close to where the bar is set around issues of privilege. I am concerned that information should not be used recklessly in this House.

I am not saying that that is what has occurred today. I am just using the point the member has raised to make the point that it is very difficult, when members disagree with an answer, to expect me to do something about it when it has been given as part of an answer to a supplementary question. The remedy, in my view, lies in the hands of the questioner to ask very specific questions about the information the member believes is incorrect. If a Minister then repeats what can be demonstrated to be incorrect information, and therefore may mislead the House, and if that can be shown, that is a rather different situation. To me, that is a better way to handle it. Rather than try to litigate answers by way of points of order, members should use supplementary questions to pin a Minister down. When Ministers repeat what can be demonstrated to be false information, that is a very serious situation.

28 Responses to “Speaker lines Tolley up”

  1. Spud says:

    Yesss! Another Tolley video! 😀

  2. chris says:

    Sorry Mr Mallard – your behavior in the house is amongst the worst. People in glass houses etc etc etc

    You talk about ritual humiliation – one would think that was more in line with being made to leave the house or being threatened (yet again) with being named.

  3. chris says:

    actually – to go further than my first post on this – it never ceases to shock me the behavior on BOTH sides of the house – its like children who have got into grandmas gin – the yelling of insults and childish behavior is just not on. Im embarrassed of my parliament when I see this – again BOTH parties.

  4. trueblue says:


  5. Spud says:

    Yay Lockwood 😀
    Good on ya Trev 😀
    Loved the ending clip! 😀

  6. Ianmac says:

    I’d feel a bit sorry for Anne Tolley as a person, except that she is a highly paid servant of Education and of the people and if she gets it wrong – again, then shame on you Anne Tolley! :(

  7. greenfly says:

    That’s the way!
    I noticed flecks of humble pie on Tolley’s chin,
    flecks the size of Mack trucks!
    Now, line up Key for the same treatment.

  8. Rebecca says:

    I wish more focus was placed on the centres who have always charged parents for the 20 hours – some up to $100. For example, there are some centres that demand you place your child in care for a minimum of 7 hours 3 days a week. As the 20 hours only allows for a maximum of 6 hours per day, this means you are then charged for that extra hour for each of the three days.

    This is fine, but charging $100 for those 3 hours is grossly excessive. I am not sure how they word it as legally no centre is meant to be able to charge parents for any hours covered from the 20 ECE hours.

    There is an optional charge category, but charging parents an ‘optional payment’ of at least $30 per hour is definitely taking the mickey and putting undue stress on parents – primarily those who desperately need childcare including those who have waited several months to a year to get a placing!

    I also wish more focus was placed on all the centres that charge parents their full childcare fees on public holidays – no other organisation can get away with charging customers for a service they are not providing and in fact, can’t often legally provide (e.g. Easter Friday & Easter Monday).

    Thus, arguing about the possible increases that some centres may charge in 9 months time – the same centres that often look for any excuse to put their fees up and always increase their fees whenever WFF goes up – or so is arguing about mere hypotheticals and time would be better spent addressing ECE issues that parents already face.

    Further, most reports have already said that these changes will predominantly affect Kindergartens.

    Kindergartens aren’t exactly working parent friendly so if they start charging fees, well the at-home parent may face something like $20 a term (before the 20 hours it used to be about $1-2 per 4 hour session). If you can still afford to be at home when your is 3 years old, well I am sure you’re not going to mind $20 a term.

    Kindergartens are not really a childcare choice, they are like the Montessoris in that they are a philosophical choice.

    The other thing to note about them is despite ALL the funding they have received since the 20 hours came in, we parents are still fund raising every 2 seconds for things that the centre apparently needs that will help enrich the children’s learning experiences.

    Load of rubbish. Playcentres and community led-centres on the other hand, fund raise for things they actually need. And while they are very popular with at-home parents, they hardly get a look in where funding is concerned.

  9. Dorothy says:

    Tolley is now beyond a joke – how long before she goes?

  10. Richard says:

    You could say that about Goff too!

  11. AJ says:

    Brilliant. Now we need Mr Speaker to metaphorically cane Nick Smith when he does exactly the same thing with facts and figures concerning the ACC sensitive claims unit (e.g. 6 May, 29 April, etc, etc).

  12. Tracey says:

    “I also wish more focus was placed on all the centres that charge parents their full childcare fees on public holidays – no other organisation can get away with charging customers for a service they are not providing and in fact, can’t often legally provide (e.g. Easter Friday & Easter Monday).”

    REALLY??? That’s outrageous, they might want the Fair Trading Act pointed out to them Rebecca, or a quick complaint by you to the Commerce Commission, for misleading and deceptive conduct under that Act

    Someone in the House should take this up.

  13. A Mother says:

    @Rebecca. I agree they do need to look at that.
    As for playcentres, They are still required to follow Te Whaariki, the parents have to train (through NZQA) before they help run sessions, which they are expected to do. Yes fundraising is always going on but don’t kindy’s too?

    I choose to send my children to Playcentre as if it was kindy it would be, drop off one, pick up one, wait an hour, drop of one pick one up. Without a car it would be madness, especially in winter. Playcentre they can be both in same session as is down the road.

    The fees sound the same, 20 per fam per term. You can also get the 20 hours though playcentres too, if the playcentre decides to go for funding. Our playcentre is going through the process of deciding if it is worth it or not.

    Anne Tolley should know how to her job a little better than that.

  14. Rebecca says:

    A Mother – many kindys don’t charge now due to the 20 hours but still seem expected to fundraise ALL the time (including ours)!

    Yes was aware Playcentres followed Te Whaariki, but I was of the understanding that playcentres don’t require or need 100% fully qualified teachers (under ECE standards) as it is parent-led? That parents do have to train, but that the qualification gained would not meet ECE standards in terms of what constitutes fully qualified?

    Tracey – I have tried to get the issue of childcare centres charging parents when closed for public holidays time & time again, but no one – including consumer, are interested as apparently it all depends on the policy the parent agrees to.

    However, given that where childcare is concerned and the fact that parents are often between a rock & hard place with no leverage whatsoever due to high demand for limited places then even if they did agree to such robbery, what choice did they really have? To say no and the centre turn around and say, sorry, that’s our bottom line, see you later, try somewhere else?

    I have tried taking it up with the education ministers & spokesperson for all the parties several times when I first came across the issue in 2004 then again in 2006, 2007 & 2008. All to no avail.

    The Commerce Commission never responds to anything in my view – I have taken on a few big companies in my time and while I have won, the CC never gets back to me. I have never managed to speak to a real person there.

    In terms of issues like this in ECE – just like the transport ACC levies going up by 94% – everyone is surprised, shocked, horrified but no one wants to do anything about.

    I think the fact that childcare centres have been getting away with this for so long and that it is a well-known fact in all circles pertaining to ECE speaks volumes in terms of how little families really matter in this country.

  15. Tracey says:

    If your centre does this, why not notify them of your intention not to pay th eportion allocated to the times they dont actually provide a service, or deduct it from your next payment, keep a paper trail and track their response. I suspect if they don’t accept your deducted amount, and throw your child out, your next stop could be media, they lap that stuff up.

  16. Rebecca says:

    No but Tracey they won’t let you even start at the centre unless you accept their policies.

    And if it wasn’t in the policy then you find yourself being charged on public holidays, they will tell you to pay or they’ll take you to Baycorp etc.

    The ball is totally in their court.

    Working parents are almost powerless including being forced to pay a $100 extra for 20 yours because the 20 ECE is only a subsidy, charging parents more when the WFF Childcare Subsidy increases etc.

    And with more parents than ever going back to work since 2004 it is getting worse.

    And no, the media weren’t interested when I contacted them – the last time was just before Anzac day in 2007 I think.

    I also doubt many parents could be bothered – working with children has enough stresses of its own.

  17. A Mother says:

    No your right that is where Playcentre is unique. It reconises that parents are childrens first teachers, and as such we are expected to involve ourselves in the centre.

    In other centres, especially in a larger centre I do think you need trained teachers as you are not involved and I would feel more comfortable leaving my child with qualified teachers, ie if I went back to work.

    I do agree ECE centres do do what you are saying. When I was looking at centres, deciding if I went back to work (before I fell pregnant again while on leave)We ended up deciding it wasn’t really worth the stress especially if I ended up paying all that money for childcare. So I resigned and looked after the 3 children at home and my partner worked. There were no 20 hours for us but looked at the way it would work with the 20 hours and it was like that. Wasn’t free.

  18. Rebecca says:

    Yes and that is where playcentres have got it right – I wish the government would place more emphasis on parents as first teachers and in fact, increase funding and resources to the official MOE service (PAFT) that is free to all parents.

    We used it as I had little family support and honestly, it taught me so much about what to expect with our children’s development and how to handle the various challenges that as parents we all come to know all to well etc.

    Sadly the parents who need it most – e.g. young Mums, parents raising kids in dysfunctional environments, aren’t aware of this service or don’t use it and don’t often have good access to any child care whether Kindy, private, or Kohanga Reo.

    While studies seem skeptical of the benefits of childcare in terms of middle-high income children being placed in care for more hours than the parent actually needs they all agree that where these particularly children (lower incomes from dysfunction backgrounds) are concerned, it can be very beneficial to their long term health and well being as it is essentially an escape from their shoddy lives. They would get a chance to have someone tell them they are worth it.

    This is an area which, if I went back to work, I would love to focus on as am hugely passionate in advocating for children’s health & wellbeing.

  19. A Mother says:

    I can actually remember back to when I was in childcare before Kindy. I say care as it wasn’t education and wasn’t really care either! I remember it in detail. We were hardly supervised and kids left to their own devices. Kids picked on each other and it was horrible. When they cooked lunch we were expected to play in this big room and we didn’t have anyone in there with us. We were put in this little room to watch playschool while they set the tables up for lunch and then we had the same thing for lunch everyday.

    I don’t want to go back to those days. . She took us out as when my brother went he hated it, while I didn’t complain. When I was 3 she sent me with my brother. She asked me why My brother didn’t like it and I said some kids tried to run over him with a truck. I still remember one kid sitting on the truck one kid pushing it and my brother running around and around in circles so tired tears were running down his face while I yelled at them to stop. No teacher came.

    Mum promptly pulled us out. Tried to talk to mum about it. She was unaware what went on and didn’t want to hear it 28 years later.

    NZ doesn’t want to go back to those days. We need educated teachers. Playcentre is different as yes it is parents run, but you are involved so know what is going on.

  20. Spud says:

    Agreed, A Mother 😀

  21. Rebecca says:

    That sounds awful. However, I think you would agree very few centres could get away with that lack of care these days. It would most certainly come up in the ERO reports and further, the NZCA gives a guide for what parents should look out for when choosing a centre so it is in the centre’s best interests stay with regulation.

    Further, appropriate care can be given by parents, caregivers, nannies & teachers alike. All are more than capable if they are informed, have basic well-child training and genuinely love working with children.

    There is no research that I have seen that a child does better in the long term (whether socially, academically or developmentally) if there preschool years are spent in a child care facility with 100% qualified teachers vs a home based service, play centre or with a loving parent.

    This is the point that seems to be missed in these kinds of political debates and it comes at the expense of what is best for our children.

    The primary study relied on by Labour (something like competent child – sorry, I forget it’s proper name) that they (from what I have gathered) used to substantiate their 20 free ECE hours (which is now not free) initiative was by all accounts a farce in terms of standard research methodology. It was a tiny sample from well-to-do children in the Wellington area so hardly indicative of childcare let alone children across the country.

    I would love to see more unbiased research on this issue as with so many parents being forced to work, it is important we get it right as the children are our future.

  22. Trevor Mallard says:

    Rebecca I think what is undisputed is that if a child is in ECE then they do better the higher the proportion of trained teachers. What I think is important is that people have the choice of high quality care and education if the parents are in paid employment, and that 15 -20 hours high quality care and education within whatever system is available for all 3 – 5 year olds so they learn the social skills that are so importnat later in life.

  23. A Mother says:

    For full time care, where parents are at work, yes Nanny or Porse is good but then its smaller numbers of children. Full tme care in a centre for working parents however that don’t choose home ECE services, I’m not convinced. Think they need qualified staff.

    This is proberly due to my long elephant memory, that won’t let me forget anything except when I walk into an exam room then all comes back to me when I leave, of my own experience at daycare. Mum wasn’t working just wanted to get us used to being left alone before kindy started. It was only for 1/2 day a week.

  24. A Mother says:

    What is Tolley on Trevor?
    How can she not realise what is in the budget when it relates to her portfoilo!

    It is just beyond belief.

  25. Trevor Mallard says:

    I just don’t think she is bright enough to have a senior portfolio. Apparently did well as a whip and used to have good people skills but observing her berating people around here that seems to be going too.

  26. Rebecca says:

    Trevor re “Rebecca I think what is undisputed is that if a child is in ECE then they do better the higher the proportion of trained teachers”

    I unequivocally disagree however, if there is research that shows this then I will of course be open to re-evaluating my view.

    Yes the working parent should have a choice of high quality child care if needing to place their children in such facilities, but a clear unbiased definition of what actually constitutes high quality child care remains to be seen.

    In my view, so long as the child is kept safe, fed, has fun and from 4 up is prepared for school in terms of the social , self-care & pre-literacy skills that required (all of which I might add can easily be met by a non working, part-time working parent, diligent nanny or homebased caregiver) then it is job well done.

    A mother – understandable you are still haunted by such awful child care memories.

    In terms of Anne Tolley – it seems a little harsh to say she is not “bright enough to have a senior portfolio” but judging from her apparent inability to properly address the issues raised by the Opposition I suppose it is a fair enough conclusion.

    As an alternative though I would suggest she perhaps just doesn’t have the gift of the gab and in politics, well that is a must when it comes to attributes!

  27. Trevor Mallard says:

    Rebecca – don’t have time to do the research for you but I’m sure if you googled a few articles by Linda Mitchell, Helen May, Margaret Carr or Wendy Lee all solid NZ academics you will find the evidence you need. Going back a bit Anne Meade wrote on this in either the 1970s or 1980s.

  28. Giarne Harrison says:

    @Rebecca, I can’t find the piece of research I was thinking of, I think I only have a paper copy at work and I am at home. This article by Colin Tarr, who was at the time working for Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/ New Zealand Childcare Association- – references other work by Helen May and others.

    It makes for really interesting reading. There is also international research that points to the levels of qualified teachers being a key factor in the levels of achievement of children, the general efficacy of centres and the long-term outcomes for children.

    I am appalled at Tolley’s lack of knowledge – it was a real shame to see her apology delivered to very few MPs, the chambers seemed empty. Well done Trevor, and Lockwood Smith is better than I thought he would be as speaker, he delivered a stern warning!