Speaker forces Foss to front up on Novopay

Embattled Associate Education Minister Craig Foss has been forced to release more embarrassing details about the botched Novopay system following intervention from Parliament’s Speaker, says Labour’s Acting Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.

“Initially Craig Foss tried to shirk responsibility for Novopay’s new lows by claiming that details of its flawed systems were an ‘operational matter’ for the Chief Executive.

This argument fell flat with Parliament’s Speaker Lockwood Smith, who asked the Minister to give ‘informative replies’ to written questions.

“National shouldn’t need to be reminded to be up front. This is the kind of ‘duck and cover’ mentality that gets Minister’s into trouble.

“Foss’s delayed response reveals 581 people have been paid on behalf of schools they didn’t even work at and $560,000 has been advanced by schools themselves to cover Novopay’s mistakes.

“Furthermore, since Novopay started, 7,899 people have been underpaid or not paid at all, over 6,000 people have been overpaid and only 281 manual payments to correct faults have been processed.

“Teachers and school staff were given assurances that any wrong payments would be corrected manually, but even this looks to be too much to ask.

“People trying to get through to the Novopay service centre were waiting up to an hour and a half with 15,000 calls going unanswered or being abandoned altogether.

“The stark reality is these figures probably under-state the problem as many schools resolve to get on with the job rather than report problems to the Ministry. Schools should be focused on teaching kids, not worrying about whether their teachers are going to be paid properly.

“Novopay was signed off by Education Minister Hekia Parata and Craig Foss before it was ready.  The botched system is expected to cost tax payers $189.5 million over 10 years. For that kind of coin Kiwis expect excellence.

“Perhaps when he returns from his holiday in Hawaii John Key might like to make it clear to Hekia Parata and Craig Foss that if they can’t get on top of their portfolios they should hand them over to someone who can,” Chris Hipkins says.