Thursday, 6 August 2009

Cut backs in New Zealand

Row reaches Parliament
And evokes memories

It sounds like a rowdy and ill-tempered debate in the New Zealand Parliament yesterday when ministers were fielding oral questions:

Questions And Answers - 5 August 2009

Questions for Oral Answer

3. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Education: Mr Speaker [Interruption]—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have called the members’ colleague. I say to the front-bench members on my left that I have called the Hon Clayton Cosgrove [Interruption] And I will have order on the right-hand side of the House too [Interruption] Either way, I am not happy with the member continuing to interject when I have called another member to ask his question. I accept that there had been a breach on both sides of the House and I will ignore the latter one.

Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: Has she considered the impact of the Government’s decision to discontinue physical therapy funding for students with severe disabilities?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Education) : Yes.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: What would the Minister say to Kaiapoi mother Julie Baker, whose 12-year-old daughter Brittany has cerebral palsy and faces the very real prospect of having to remove her from school as a result of those cuts, which the mother says will have “devastating consequences for children like Brittany”?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I am advised that a student with high or very high needs would still continue to receive about $20,000 from both the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme and from theoperations grant, and a quarter of that Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme funding should be used for therapy. I am also advised that there are a number of children throughout the country with similar or even higher needs who are not receiving any of that extra support because this additional funding for therapy was schools based, not needs-based.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Why did the Minister tell the 23 schools throughout New Zealand affected by these cuts that to make up the shortfall in funding, “those schools might contribute from their operational grants or their staffing entitlement”, and does she agree with the principal of Addington School that runs, as she should be aware, a conductive education programme, that such a suggestion is “insulting”?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I say to that member that up and down this country there are a large number of schools that under the previous Government were supporting special-needs students from their operational grant and from their staffing entitlement. This Government has put an extra $51 million into Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme funding and that will create another 1,100 places for children whom the previous Government left unfunded and unsupported.

Jo Goodhew: What reports has the Minister received on funding for special education?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I have received an email from the mother of a 5-year-old girl with autism. She wrote of her long campaign to secure special-needs funding for her daughter. She thanked the National Government for boosting special-education funding by $51 million, which will provide help for another 1,100 children so that other mums and dads would be spared what she had suffered [Interruption]—

Mr SPEAKER: I just ask members to be a little reasonable. I have called the Hon Clayton Cosgrove to ask a supplementary question, and he has not had a chance because his colleagues are interjecting so much.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Does the Minister consider it fair that although private schools are set to receive an additional $35 million in funding, the future development of an education for some of the country’s most vulnerable children is now under threat as a result of her directive to discontinue funding, and how on earth does she reconcile that little anomaly?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: What is not fair is under the previous Government some schools got extra funding and some schools did not. Some children got that extra funding, and some children did not. That is what was not fair under the previous Government.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, that was a straight question that asked the Minister about the fairness of funding private schools to the detriment of the most vulnerable children. She started the answer off by saying she would tell me what was fair and then she prattled on about something else. She did not even address that question. It was a straight one.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: I do not need any further help on the matter. All I invite the honourable member to do is to read his Hansard. If that was asked, it might have been possible to get an answer, but he went on to ask the Minister how she reconciled something to do with fairness. The Minister gave an answer reconciling how she sees that, and that is the dilemma the member will get when he adds that type of thing to his question. The Minister is entitled to respond to that part of the question.

This issue seems to phuttered out there for the moment, lost in procedural matters. Presumably, though, this matter still has political legs.

Meantwhile, the confusion between Conductive Education with therapy does not help anyone, spectator or particpant.

Lots of parliaments and councils...

Still, at least CE in NZ has got to its Parliament. This seems pretty rare these days. Twas no always thus.

A few years ago the old Conductive Education Online ran a regularly updated feature called Grand Central, a sort of gazeteer providing live links to what was appearing with increasing frequency on the Internet even then (and with no Google Alert to do the donkey work!)

This included a section on 'Legislatures and local government' a rather ad hoc and serendippity mixture though it did reflect the amount of public discussion that Conductive Eduation used to enjoy:

The listing that you find here runs from June 1998 to October 2003, Contents are rather skewed towards the United Kingom, though this in part refelects the reality of that time. New Zealand is in there, so oo are Australia, Canada, Norway, Swden, the Irish Republic....

Grand Central was taken off line sometime in 2004 though it is of course still accessible:

Tut-Ankh-Amun's tomb

If you want an impression of what the world of CE was like around the turn of the century, then a dip into Grand Central might prove instructive, even amusing: at the same time both evocative and puzzling, like a box of old familiy photographs. Myself, I feel it to be a bit like Tut's tomb, an untidy pile of treasures stacked hastily one upon the other.

You can find the whole of Grand Cental here:

Amazingly, most of the links still work!



  1. Link to Grand Central web archive added to "The Conductive Web" .