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Half a million smells like pure cronyism

The National/ACT Government’s decision to pump hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars into a new lobby group to advocate for charter schools shows just how much of a failure their ideological experiment has become, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“When charter schools were first mooted, National and ACT swore organisations would be beating down the door to set one up. Yet in every application round since, the advisory group overseeing the process has raised concern about the poor calibre of applications.

“We’ve already seen one charter school close after only two years of operation, and other high-profile applicants have pulled out.

“If charter schools are such a great idea National and ACT would not need to pump hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars into a group to lobby on their behalf.

“And why do they think their new group, E Tipu E Rea Trust, will have any credibility when they've appointed a bunch of their mates to run it?

“Despite the Ministry of Education cautioning against awarding the contract without a tender, warning of conflicts of interest, and suggestions the new group might not be sustainable, Hekia Parata and David Seymour charged ahead anyway.

“There was no competitive tender and no transparent process. It's cronyism plain and simple.

“What a bunch of hypocrites the ACT Party has become. Only a few weeks ago they were arguing that taxpayers shouldn’t fund lobby groups like the Smokefree Coalition, and now they’re pumping half a million into a brand new lobby group to push one of their pet hobby horses.

“It’s time to end the charter school experiment and direct the money back into what matters – educating kids,” Chris Hipkins says.