Statement from NZ Labour Party
Taxpayers have Hekia Parata to thank for the $425,000 bill for Lesley Longstone’s early departure as boss of the Ministry of Education, says Chris Hipkins, Labour’s Education spokesperson.
“Lesley Longstone was only in the job as Chief Executive of the Ministry Education for 13 months, but she is walking away with a golden handshake of close to half-a-million-dollars. It is outrageous.
“The Government claims the relationship between Lesley Longstone and Hekia Parata had broken down. Well, $425,000 dollars would have paid for a hell of a lot of relationship counselling.
“The truth is this had very little to do with whether or not the Minister and her Chief Executive could play nicely together – that was just a convenient cover story.
“In reality, Lesley Longstone took the fall for Hekia Parata’s incompetence, and National’s unpopular policies. Taxpayers are paying a hefty price, just so that National has someone else to blame for the Government’s stuff-ups in education.
“The Government’s education woes have been entirely of its own making – from increasing class sizes, to signing off on Novopay when it had 142 known faults and being over-ruled in the courts about the closure of Salisbury School.
“Today’s pay-out is 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.
“Hekia Parata has cost taxpayers $425,000 today. It is just a shame that she is not the one getting the golden handshake,” says Chris Hipkins.
Statement from Green Party
Hekia Parata’s inability to manage her education portfolio has just cost New Zealanders more than $425,000, says Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.
State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has just announced details of the $425,475 exit payment to former Education Secretary Lesley Longstone who quit late last year.
“Ms Longstone was forced to take the blame for Hekia Parata’s repeated failures in education and that has now cost ordinary people nearly half a million dollars,” Mrs Turei said.
“Rather than let her work out her notice, which the State Services Commissioner said would have been normal, Hekia Parata’s relationship with Ms Longstone was so dysfunctional that she had to be shown the door immediately, making the exit payment much higher than it should have been.
“Parents in Christchurch fighting for their kids’ schools to stay open would be sickened to hear so much money had gone down the drain because the Minister can’t manage basic relationships with her staff.
“When Ms Longstone announced her resignation late last year, State Services Commission head Iain Rennie said that the strained relationship between her and Ms Parata had been an important factor in her decision to resign.
“It is crucial for an education minister to listen to people and engage with them respectfully on a range of levels. Hekia Parata has failed to respect pupils, parents, teachers, and her own staff, proving time and again she is just not up to the job,” Mrs Turei said.