I began the Parliamentary year with a focus on getting kids back to school.
Most New Zealanders will be shocked to learn that in 2019 only 58 per cent of students attended school regularly. The figure was a bit higher last year, but still only 64 per cent, and that figure was affected by the swings and roundabouts of Covid.
That means of the 850,000 children at school during the compulsory years, more than 300,000 aren’t attending regularly.
That’s 300,000 missed opportunities, and a national disgrace.
No wonder our overall achievement is falling, and that it’s the 20 or 30 per cent of students with the worst results that are most concerning.
We have to end the culture of excuses for this. It will be my focus as Education spokesperson.
Aside from a new Green MP locked up in managed isolation, all the MPs turned up back to our school this week.
The National team is determined to hold the Government to account and to start the long, hard road back to political success.
Labour, by contrast, has become arrogant very quickly.
It’s decision to ram through urgent legislation to deprive communities of the right to binding referendum on Maori wards on councils, is a case in point.
Labour’s election manifesto in 2020 said, ‘Labour will ensure that major decisions about local democracy involve full participation of the local population from the outset’.
Returned to Government, they have casually broken that promise, and put a law through taking the local populations’ wishes out of the equation.
As Simon Bridges said, Maori are perfectly capable of being elected to councils as it is, and are represented well.
Extending Maori seats on local councils is taking us in the wrong direction, away from simply treating all New Zealanders the same.
Back in Epsom, I’m now sharing my Great South Road office, near the Market Road shops, with Melissa Lee. Come down some time to see us.
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