Resolution with teachers a relief
What started as a potentially bad week for the Government ended on a high note with the apparent settling of the teachers’ strike.
When Parliament resumed last week the Opposition launched an attack around the Budget hacking debacle, with questions over when Ministers actually knew there had not been any hacking of the Budget details on the Treasury website.
While it has left the Government red-faced it probably will not cause any permanent damage. It is the sort of issue that creates a lot of interest in political circles, but does not exercise the wider public to any great degree.
Then at the end of the week Education Minister Chris Hipkins was able to announce a settlement of the teachers’ pay and conditions dispute, which unions are recommending members accept. The Government added a further $271 million to its original offer of $1.2 billion over four years.
It is probably an embarrassment to the Government to appear to have backed down, but there will be limited political downside with the Opposition having supported greater resourcing of teachers.
The strike was really having an impact in the wider community and the Government will be very glad to get it out of the way.
Not so lucky is Oranga Tamariki, the children and young person’s service, which was under fire from Maori about the way children are being taken from their mothers.
Many people have shared the experience of district councillor Josh Wharehinga, who described a situation he faced in a social media post reported in Saturday’s Gisborne Herald.
Pressure is building on the embattled agency, which must be prepared to accept criticism. However, it should also be accepted that social workers have a difficult and thankless job, to put it mildly.
Minister for Children Tracey Martin has responded today, saying the need for wholesale change of the system was recognised in the establishment of Oranga Tamariki in 2017; it was always going to be a five-year process, and the agency was moving in the right direction in its relationship with Maori.
“We need to start earlier so that Oranga Tamariki is not having to show up at the door.”