In mid-December the Government launched their public consultation on the establishment of Workforce Development Councils - see HERE.
The proposed changes are a seismic shift that will give the State full control of vocational training.
Industry Training Organisations (ITOs), which since 1994 have been delivering the training industries need, are being abolished and replaced by a centralised government-appointed body.
Those familiar with politics will know the timing of the consultation document - just before Christmas - is not coincidental. With the closing date for submissions set for February 5th, the Government clearly wants to minimise engagement with the industry groups that will be most affected by the changes.
The proposal is to create six different councils, representing the spectrum of commerce in New Zealand.
The original promise appeared innocuous enough: that each Council would be an “industry-governed body” to “give industry greater leadership across vocational education.”
Yet even a cursory glance at the most recent proposals shows the actual purpose is to entrench Labour's racial “partnership” agenda with Maori and embed its socialist policies into private sector industry. This is evident in the ‘purpose’ statement which includes, “the creation of a sustainable, globally engaged and adaptive Aotearoa New Zealand” and “to contribute to an education system which honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi to help ensure fair and equitable outcomes for all”.
Sitting above each Council will be an Industry Stakeholder Group, with an independent chair who must have experience “in te ao Maori including te reo Maori and matauranga Maori.” The members of this group will be the ones deciding who will be appointed onto the Workforce Development Councils, as well as providing them with industry feedback and advice.
The proposed membership of the Workforce Development Councils is specified. For instance the Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics Workforce Development Council – see their consultation paper HERE - will have 7 to 9 members, with at least one member nominated by Maori employers to represent them, at least one nominated by the trade unions to represent employees, at least one nominated by employers in specified industries to represent them, and the remaining 4-5 members appointed by the Council.
In addition, two “governance associates” can be appointed to not only ensure the Councils “reflect the diversity of age, ideas, ethnicity and gender of the people within the specified industries and in New Zealand as a whole”, but “that over the long-term there is an adequate representation of Maori with the aim of contributing towards an education system that honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi and supports Maori-Crown relations.”
It seems that rather than prioritising industry leadership in vocational training, the Councils are being used to advance a radical political agenda.
The further requirement that “The Council as a whole must have approximately an even balance between members of the Council who are Maori and non-Maori” shows that Jacinda Ardern’s Government is pushing the country towards the separatists’ goal: the 50:50 co-governance of New Zealand. They are doing this at speed while opposition is weak and media scrutiny is barely existent.
It is yet another example of the fundamental social and political changes being introduced by Jacinda Ardern’s Government that are transforming New Zealand into a socialist state - without disclosing this pathway to the public.
Questions have also been raised about whether the Government’s requirement for Councils to have 50 percent of their membership based on race is discriminatory? It certainly ignores the principle of proportionality that underpins our laws and prevents racial bias in New Zealand, and as such is in breach of section 19(1) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, which guarantees freedom from discrimination.
This is an issue that was raised in Parliament by the Attorney General in 2015, in response to a Maori Party private members bill that would have disproportionately increased the number of Maori seats on local councils: “In a representative democracy, it is important to maintain approximately the same level of representation for everyone. The proposed formula would make the number of council members for Maori wards or constituencies disproportionately higher than the number of council members for general wards or constituencies in comparison to their respective populations. The Bill has a discriminatory impact on non-Maori by diluting their democratic participation in local authority elections.”
Using this same argument, the 50:50 co-governance ‘power sharing’ model that appears to underpin these Workforce Development Council proposals would have a similar discriminatory impact on non-Maori, and as such would be in breach of the Bill of Rights.
In summary, two important principles are at play in the overhaul of the vocational training sector.
The first is the disproportionate influence of Maori based on the bogus notion that a 50:50 Treaty of Waitangi partnership exists between Maori and the Crown. It does not. The Treaty partnership is a fabrication - see HERE.
The second is that the proposed Workforce Development Councils are being used as a device to advance the Government’s radical socialist agenda, instead of being used for the sole objective of providing industry leadership in vocational training.
With such a tainted agenda, these training groups will inevitably fail.
It's now time for the public to stand up and say no to agenda-driven politics being extended into the private sector.
It is also an issue that opposition parties must not ignore. With the Government having the ‘absolute’ power to pass any laws they like, the public is now relying on the Opposition to help protect them from extremists who are attempting to undermine the Bill of Rights and introduce discriminatory race-based proposals into law.
Please share this information as widely as you can to ensure that everyone who has an interest in the future of vocational education and training in New Zealand is aware of how crucial it is that they send in a submission. Submissions close on February 5th and can be emailed to: WDCConsultation@tec.govt.nz
Dr Muriel Newman is a former Member of Parliament who now runs the New Zealand Center for Political Research public policy think tank.