......but will Tinetti be a dunce, or will she prosecute parents and earn top marks
Two cyclone-related announcements were found on the Beehive website this morning. But a ministerial announcement that triggered a tart response from ACT – about truancy – had not yet been posted, although it was the subject of a front-page headline in the Dominion-Post today.
The headline was $74m package to fight truancy.
The announcements on the Beehive website, the official website of the New Zealand Government, around noon were:
The Government has moved quickly to put in place a Cabinet Committee and regional Ministerial leads to help coordinate the Central Government response and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.
The New Zealand Government has this afternoon extended the state of national emergency declared on 14 February for a further seven days, in response to the widespread impacts caused by Cyclone Gabrielle.
The Government is providing a further interim emergency relief package for regions hit by Cyclone Gabrielle and the January floods.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins announced the new Extreme Weather Recovery Committee will be chaired by Grant Robertson as Minister for Cyclone Recovery, with Barbara Edmonds as deputy. The Prime Minister and Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty will also be members.
The Government is providing an initial $50 million support package for businesses, farmers and growers, as well as injecting an extra $250 million to help Councils fix roads, get transport links back up and access into communities.
“But recovery is going to take a long time, so the Committee will help steer the work needed over the coming weeks and months to get affected regions back up and running again.”
Hipkins has appointed Ministers for each affected region, who will work directly with local councils on the local response.
Some regions – at first blush – will be better served than others. The Ministerial leads are:
- Northland: Minister Kelvin Davis
- Auckland and Coromandel: Minister Michael Wood
- Waikato: Minister Nanaia Mahuta
- Tairāwhiti and Bay of Plenty: Minister Kiri Allan
- Hawke’s Bay: Minister Stuart Nash
- Tararua and Wairarapa: Minister Kieran McAnulty.
Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson and Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri will also be members – each of whom will have responsibilities overseeing the recovery in these areas.
The Extreme Weather Recovery Committee will meet for the first time next week, then meet regularly to ensure the needs of communities continue to be met, and be responsible for bringing to Cabinet a plan for the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.
The taskforce announced yesterday, led by Sir Brian Roche, will feed into and report back to this committee.
The response to Cyclone Gabrielle will still be led by local civil defence and supported by the National Emergency Management Agency.
Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty signed the declaration extending the state of national emergency declared on 14 February.
The extension covers the states of national emergency over the Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Tairāwhiti, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Hawke’s Bay regions, and the Tararua District. All regions were consulted before extending the declaration and supported the extension.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Transport Minister Michael Wood announced the further interim emergency relief package for regions hit by Cyclone Gabrielle and the January floods. It comprises:
- $250 million to help Waka Kotahi and local councils to assess and fix roads
- $50 million to provide immediate support to businesses and the primary sector affected by the weather events.
- Inland Revenue support including interest write-offs, tax concessions for donated trading stock and an extension of R&D Tax Incentive filing deadlines
Mayoral Relief Funds: $3.35 million has been dispersed in the Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Thames-Coromandel and Auckland regions, with further requests expected
Civil Defence Payments: More than $28.4 million of Civil Defence Payments have been made to approximately 57,000 people
The Primary Sector Response: An initial $4 million has been made available through MPI
Community and Social support: A $11.5 million package for NGOs and community groups to provide immediate support
Initial support for the Upper North Island flooding: An initial $5 million business support fund for those largely in Auckland affected by the floods in January.
Point of Order was alerted to the statement on truancy from Education Minister Jan Tinetti – a $74 million package – by the statement from ACT’s David Seymour which scoffed at what she was doing.
It wasn’t to be found on the official Government website when first we looked this morning (but we did find it on Scoop HERE).
It was officially posted on the Beehive website later in the day.
The Government has launched a plan to get young people back into the classroom with more Attendance Officers in schools and more support for the Attendance Service.
The support, in a nutshell, comprise –
- The establishment of 82 new Attendance Officer roles;
- Further investment in the Attendance Service to support over 3000 more young people
- Commitment to improve and standardise attendance data.
“This $74 million package puts resources on the ground to support schools and students and make a difference to attendance rates this year. It will also make sure we have better data that is less likely to be misconstrued, and helps us to focus our efforts in the right place.”
The new Attendance Officers will work with students who have low or declining attendance rates, to ensure they are going to school every day unless they are sick. They will work alongside parents and schools to turn around attendance rates.
The Attendance Service already works with students who are chronically absent, or not enrolled at all, and this will help it to support 3000 more young people, Tinetti said.
She blamed Covid for the growing incidence of truancy.
“The decline in school attendance began in 2015, but the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. We need to be doing more to help schools and kura support students who are not attending or engaged in education,” Jan Tinetti said.
This package builds on the $88 million package announced last year, consisting of the Regional Response Fund and direct investment into programmes that help young people engage in learning, as well as the ongoing work through the Attendance Strategy and attendance campaigns launched last year.
So far, at least $6.3 million of the $10 million Regional Response Fund (RRF) has been paid out, been approved, or is awaiting approval. This covers at least 130 initiatives involving over 445 schools.
But should parents play a role?
Of course. But Tinetti’s emphasis is on making it a challenging community issue rather than something for which delinquent parents should be blamed:
“This is a complex issue that will require the whole community, including parents, to fix but the Government is committed to doing everything it can turn attendance and engagement in school around.
“We know that there are many reasons why a child might not show up to school, which is why we’re also continuing our initiatives that are focused on removing barriers to education such as free period products, free healthy school lunches, school donations, preventing bullying and redesigning our curriculum.”
Can we expect results fairly soon?
Don’t be silly.
“These measures will, over time, ensure that young people right across the country are attending, want to be at school and are on the right path to success in their education,” Jan Tinetti said.
ACT leader David Seymour countered that throwing money at the truancy crisis is a failed idea from failed Education Minister Chris Hipkins.
“That bureaucrats came up with nothing better shows we need a total clean out and ACT’s plan to fire half of the Ministry of Education is the correct one”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
We need accountability, he said. That means mandatory daily attendance reporting and fines for parents who refuse to send their kids to school, as set out in ACT’s truancy plan released in November.
Seymour said attendance data was five months late, the Ministry barely keeps track of what truancy organisations are doing, and parents aren’t held accountable.
“The Ministry says it has increased the number of organisations contracted to deal with truancy from 45 to 79 but, as ACT revealed in November, it barely keeps track of what they’re doing. Despite allocating $16.5 million to attendance services last year, the Ministry didn’t know how many attendance officers there were and didn’t receive any truancy data from 108 schools in Term 2.
“We have a truancy crisis in this country and yet the data for Term 3 last year was five months late. Was it incompetence or was the Ministry hiding it?”
Seymour’s figures show
- Only one family has been handed a fine for their children’s truancy in five years under s244 of the Education and Training Act 2020.
- There were 40 per cent more cases of truancy last year than there was in 2021.
- In Term 2 of last year, 60 per cent of students did not attend regularly. It gets worse by decile, with only 23 per cent of Decile 1 attending regularly.
- In Northland, only 28 per cent of all students attended regularly.
Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton