Eric Roy Replies, As Do I

Eric Roy felt compelled to respond to my letter despite reservations:

"I always hesitate to respond to Green Party candidate Dave Kennedy's letters, as it usually provokes another ill-informed response, but I have to tidy up his mistakes (July 18)."

After much spin, blaming the previous government for Novopay and listing the sums spent in different areas (with little contextual explanation), Eric ends with:

"Mr Kennedy's bias to being anti-Government blinds him to the fact that we are getting on and doing the job."

Here is my "informed" and factually based response:

I was amused by Eric Roy's determination to resort to spin in his reply (July 22) to my earlier letter.

It was his Government that cut funding to the Education Ministry by $25 million and appointed someone to lead it with no understanding of our public education system (Lesley Longstone had a background in Charter Schools). A review by the Prime Minister's Office had revealed that the Education Ministry was the worst performing in the state sector and yet Government Ministers agreed to implement Novopay on its advice, with no trial and 147 identified software defects. The resulting mess was predictable and cannot be blamed on an under-resourced Ministry nor the previous Government.

The Green’s home insulation scheme has been one of the most successful initiatives supported by this Government and it got a glowing report from Treasury. The initial outlay of $330 million created $1.3 billion worth of benefits (five times the resource costs) and created employment as well as 200,000 healthier homes. If the initial four year agreement was so incredibly successful, and is still necessary, why cut it?

The demand for early childhood education has grown, partly through this Government’s determination to encourage mothers of young children into employment. Despite the recent increase in funding we actually have fewer qualified teachers in each centre and invest far less in the sector than most OECD countries.

Mr Roy needs to talk to the Southland District Council and local truck drivers to understand how his Government has caused a deterioration in our local roads. The NZTA has reduced funding and has limited the Council’s ability to target spending to areas of greatest need.

We desperately need a Government that properly consults and plans for the future rather than looking for quick fixes that benefit few.


Keeping Stock said…
How about actually publishing what Eric Roy said bsprout so that people can judge for themselves whether it was a reasonable response to you, or as you say "much spin". After all, you are hardly a neutral with regard to Mr Roy.
bsprout said…
Sadly, KS, the Southland Times does not publish all letters online so in the interests of fairness for those who don't get the Southland Times here is Eric's letter transcribed below:

I always hesitate to respond to Green Party candidate Dave Kennedy's letters, as it usually provokes another ill-informed response, but I have to tidy up his mistakes (July 18).

Mr Kennedy says the home insulation initiative has "had its budget cut by two-thirds". The Green Party agreed that the scheme should run for four years when it signed off on the deal in 2009. National has actually extended the Warm up New Zealand programme for another three years from 2014, so in reality the budget for the programme has increased by $100 million.

Budget 2013 delivered $172.5m over four years in new operating investment for early childhood education, taking our total investment in early childhood education in 2013-14 to $1.5 billion, up from $860m in 2007-08.

As far as Novopay goes, we have come a long way from the mess we inherited. At the last pay period there were only 0.22 per cent of errors compared with 2.2 per cent in February.

Government agencies work closely on roading issues with local authorities, and the NZ Transport Agency contributes more than $16m of the Southland District Council's $26m - plus roading budget.

Mr Kennedy's bias to being anti-Government blinds him to the fact we are getting on and doing the job.

Eric Roy
Keeping Stock said…
I can't see too much wrong it what Eric Roy has written bsprout. Perhaps it's simply a matter of the colour of the spectacles we view things through ;)
robertguyton said…
"I can't see too much wrong it what Eric Roy has written..."

Classic! Of course you can't, KS. You are all but blind, politically. Get someone to explain it to you. Like bsprout, for example.
bsprout said…
Like I said KS, it is mainly spin.

Eric is correct when he says the home insulation scheme has been increased by $100 million but only because they decided not to continue with the $330 million scheme when the original agreement ended. By starting again from nothing National can claim $100m is an increase. The scheme had proved to be very successful and was returning five times the initial investment, was providing employment and making a real difference to people's homes. There was no good reason not to continue, but to cut the budget by over two thirds defies reason. To also claim it as one of the most important of national's initiatives to address poverty is hypocritical in the extreme.

The initial cut of $400 million from the ECE budget was devastating on the sector, as was the cut in funding for centres that had 100% qualified staff (the lid was dropped to 80%). There has been an increase in funding as Eric said (more spin), but to put it in context, some is to repair the damage from the original shortfall and with a growth in the number of private centres there is less to go round. Many centres are now struggling to maintain even 50% qualified staff and we are still behind the funding levels of other OECD countries.

Novopay was not an inherited mess. National's funding cuts, change of leadership and policy shifts meant many who had useful knowledge in the Ministry left and those who remained were under immense pressure. The biggest mess was caused by poor implementation through an under-resourced Ministry and poor judgement by National Ministers.

The lack of funding for Southland's roads was covered well in my post. Money has been sucked from the regions to fund the dodgy RONs.

What Eric stated may not have been entirely wrong in a factual sense but it was heavily spun to hide the reality. His original piece implied that the Government was "winning", but in all the areas I highlighted there have been no wins.

I should also note that there were a couple of other areas that I had mentioned that Eric didn't even reply to - because no spin could address them.
robertguyton said…
Those Early Childhood Education budget cuts, bsprout. Ask Keeping Stock if he benefited personally from those in any way.

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