Today in Parliament I questioned the Minister of Education Hekia Parata on her decision to close Branston Intermediate School in Christchurch. I singled out Branston because Parata had given them a specific commitment that they wouldn’t close before the end of 2014 and she has now reneged on that commitment. Here is an excerpt from the Hansard (video):
Chris Hipkins: Did she, or her officials, give Branston Intermediate School an assurance that any students enrolled for 2013 would be able to finish their 2 years at Branston Intermediate School before any closure?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I did not.
Chris Hipkins: Did she write to Branston Intermediate School on 28 September stating that she had made “a proposal about the closure of Branston Intermediate School to be implemented for the end of 2014.”, and did she tell a public meeting at Branston Intermediate School that the school would definitely be open in 2014, as parents have written in to say she said; if so, why is she now changing that proposal so that students who have only just started school this year will have to change school next year?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I did provide Branston Intermediate School with a proposal, and in the meeting with the Branston community I repeatedly said it was a proposal and that they were free to make submissions on it, as indeed they can on the proposal they now have.
Chris Hipkins: At the public meeting with Branston Intermediate School did she give them an assurance that Branston Intermediate School would still be open in 2014?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I made it clear, repeatedly, that it was a proposal, that they had the opportunity to give a submission on that proposal, and I got their submission, and they now have a further opportunity.
At that point we then had a lengthy series of points of order about whether or not Parata’s answer actually addressed the question. Ultimately, the public will be the judge of that, but I can’t imagine she would’ve gotten away with that under Lockwood Smith.
Hekia Parata can try to hide behind the words “interim decisions” and “proposal” all she likes – but the fact is she has gone back on her word. Her word is worthless.
Is it any wonder that 71% of those polled in Canterbury want Hekia Parata sacked as Minister of Education? They don’t trust her, and don’t want her anywhere near the education of their children.