Today the State Services Commission finally announced the details of Lesley Longstone’s departure package. Recall that Longstone resigned as CE of the Ministry of Education the week before Christmas, just after her Minister, Hekia Parata, had conveniently brought her holiday forward so she was away from any fallout.
In announcing her resignation, State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie cited a breakdown in Longstone’s relationship with Hekia Parata as one of the reasons for her leaving. To this day, Parata is still refusing to comment on the issue.
Responsibility for Longstone’s $425,000 payout rests squarely on Hekia Parata’s shoulders. Taxpayers are paying a hefty price, just so that National has someone else to blame for the Government’s stuff-ups in education. Let’s look at the big debacles:
- Bigger class sizes was a policy signed-off by Cabinet as part of the Budget
- The Christchurch school fiasco was all done under ministerial direction
- Novopay was signed-off by Ministers (albeit on shonky advice)
- Salisbury School’s closure, overturned by the courts, was Parata’s decision
Basically, Longstone is taking the fall for the government, and the taxpayers are forking out $425,000 as a result. The real accountability should be with the Minister. John Key promised Kiwis he would hold his ministers to a higher standard. Repeatedly he has failed to live up to that commitment.
Today’s pay-out is also a complete slap in the face to the thousands of school staff who are still waiting to be paid what they are owed by Novopay. It is galling to see so much money wasted on a severance payment when schools are still waiting for proper Government support to compensate them for the costs of the Novopay debacle.