Prime Minister says National’s take on Polytechnics incorrect

Prime Minister says National’s take on Polytechnics incorrect

Jane Patterson

Wellington, February 8, 2019

The National Party was looking to gazump the Prime Minister’s first big speech of the year by making public what it says are the government’s plans for the vocational training sector.

As Jacinda Ardern was outlining the problems facing polytechnics and institutes of technology and flagging what she called “far-reaching” changes, National leader Simon Bridges was briefing reporters with details he said had been leaked to his Party.

Jacinda Ardern speaking to media in Auckland today (RNZ Photo by Claire Eastham-Farrelly)

Reassuring businesses

Ms Ardern’s speech was all about reassuring businesses the government was aware of and preparing for future economic challenges, including skills shortages.

The government had already spent $100 million bailing out four polytechnics, a “pattern” that started under the previous government, she said.

“How is it, for example, that at a time when w are facing critical skill shortages, our polytechnics and institutes of technology are in many cases going broke?”

New Plan next week

A new Plan would be announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins next week.

However, at National’s caucus retreat in Hamilton, Mr Bridges was telling reporters that the Plan would mean 1000 jobs will be lost.

“Abolishing them all, moving to four hubs, effectively a nationalisation, a Venezuela model.”

All of which was put to Ms Ardern.

“He is utterly incorrect – our goal is grow the sector,” she said.

Chris Hipkins has signalled significant changes to the structure of the sector, but he said it was wrong to be talking about four regional hubs.

“The polytechnics are already entrenching, they are already cutting courses, they are already laying off staff and they have been for some time,” he said.

National leader Simon Bridges with Australia’s former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Party’s caucus retreat in Hamilton (RNZ Photo by Chris Bramwell)

Speculation irresponsible

Mr Hipkins would not discuss any specifics before next week’s announcement, but said that speculation about further job losses was irresponsible.

With the imminent release of the Tax Working Group’s Report, Ms Ardern also reiterated that any tax changes would not affect the family home, or the land beneath it.

Jane Patterson is Political Editor at Radio New Zealand. Indian Newslink has published the above Report, Pictures and Video under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz

 

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