Key defends 'small' Longstone payout
Wed, 06 Mar 2013 6:35a.m.
John Key has described how Education Minister Hekia Parata just didn't gel with former Ministry of Education chief executive Lesley Longstone.
But he says Lesley Longstone's exit package of more than $425,000 after little more than a year in the job was a relatively small sum.
The Prime Minister says such payments are not uncommon in the public and private sectors.
“At the end of the day sometimes from time to time these things will happen, the overall scheme of things relative to the amount of expenditure that’s undertaken – it’s obviously a very small fraction – a lot the payment was actually her standard contract and would have been paid anyway.”
Ms Longstone left the ministry just 13 months into her five-year contract after a year of botch-ups and a relationship breakdown with minister Ms Parata.
Ms Longstone received $267,952 in severance payment and $157,523 in holiday pay and payment in lieu of notice.
Ms Parata, the State Services Commission and Steven Joyce, the minister responsible for Novopay, all refused to take questions on Ms Longstone's departure and payout.
Labour leader David Shearer put the blame for the golden handshake squarely on Ms Parata, saying Ms Longstone was a "scapegoat".
"We're finding out today, for example, that officials were telling Hekia Parata – with regard to the Christchurch school closures – slow down, don't do it so fast, take a more measured approach. She ignored that advice," he told Firstline this morning.
"Hekia Parata's now got rid of Longstone to make herself look better, and now we're having to foot up the bill of a $420,000 payout. Now, look - that buys a lot of teachers, that buys a lot of assistance and support to schools.
"Right now, schools could do with it – they're struggling with Novopay."
Mr Shearer says teachers are "demoralised" under Ms Parata's leadership.
"Teachers are just fed up – it's Novopay, it's school closures, it's expanding classroom, it's charter school – it's a whole bunch of things that are really ill-advised being thrust onto teachers… I actually believe that Hekia Parata is not up to the job, and we're covering her tracks by giving big payouts to people who have only been in the job for a little while."
Ms Parata, the State Services Commission and Steven Joyce, the minister responsible for Novopay, all refused to take questions on Ms Longstone's payout.
Mr Key is currently in Mexico, on the first leg in a trade tour of Latin America.
3 News / RadioLIVE
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7/03/2013 8:55:46 p.m.
Another disgrace and again goes to show Key's disparity from normal working people, particularly the increasingly disprortionate number who receive barely a liveable wage.
7/03/2013 2:33:21 p.m.
Typical of the selve serving who will up-play those things which will be of no benefit to the people and down-play the screwups and payouts.The unbelievable arrogance over sums of money (the variance is incredible 0.25cents a good increase for the min wage and $425,000 relatively small for a failed employment relationship)... well I think he seriously can't help it - amazingly ignorant or simply arrogant of everyday NZer's situation!And again I say any recent poll which puts him over 50% in favour is in error.
7/03/2013 10:33:12 a.m.
Geoff Orchard wrote:
I am not sure that John Key has a clue when he says that Ms Longstones payout was but small cheese in the great scheme of things. "These things happen in the public and private service." he says. Well there are an awful lot of us would very much prefer that they didn't, and that realistic steps were taken to prevent them ever happening again. Ms Longstone's renumeration for her 13 months "service" would amount to around $1million and no doubt there were ridiculous costs incurred in employing her and relocating her to NZ in the first place. All of it paid for with borrowed money.If it was such a small thing why is everybody who has any semblance of responsibility for this situation suddenly not available for comment. Business as usual for the pollys.
7/03/2013 6:36:31 a.m.
Looks like Mark got on the same stupid train as Neil, and is lamely trying to keep the focus off the govt's blunder and on their skewed take of socialism, (think you left out another 'terrible'..?).... Might as well bring up the price of fish while you're at it fellas. Tell you what the most expensive type of socialism is though lads...When the biggest corporations get to fully enjoy their privatised profits, (which is absolutely their right) but start wailing to have their losses socialised when they fail,(which is absolutely the taxpayers' burden?). Like the epic global fail of 2008....hey then they're all for socialism....hmmm. Any outcry from the right on that form of socialism...? But anyway, getting back to the issue, it just shows how out of touch Joe Key is when he refers to nearly half a million as 'small'... You know that's going to piss the struggling middle/working class off. Great timing from the smiling asinine PM.
6/03/2013 10:24:10 p.m.
Murt, the reason Lesley Longstone isn't speaking out is because as a state servant she is automatically gagged and may not speak out against the government. You can rest assured that this gag will have been included in her severance payment - it is likely to explain the sheer size of it too!!
6/03/2013 9:20:52 p.m.
The trouble is with socialism, which resembles a form of mental illness more than it does a philosophy. Socialists get bees in their bonnets, as we are seeing here. And because they chronically lack any critical faculty to examine and evaluate their ideas, and because they are pathologically unwilling to consider the opinions of others, and most of all, because socialism is a mindset that regards the individual — and his rights — as insignificant, compared to whatever the socialist believes the group needs, terrible, terrible things happen when socialists acquire power like the equal sharing of misery.
6/03/2013 7:33:50 p.m.
Socialism Neil?? The issue is about taxpayers money running down the drain chasing after another govt screw up isn't it? Thats got less to do with the type of political system and more to do with utterly inept management from a witless govt bro. National try to pass themselves off as business savvy and most of their deals end up costing the general public when they turn out to be lemons...That's a lot more relevant than raving on about socialism guy...? But nice try on the diversion thing...
6/03/2013 6:10:26 p.m.
This country is on the brink of a socialist upheaval thanks to Key, Parata and their policies derived from their greed.The teachers have been very professional about their predicament but the protests have started and will only grow.The only problem I have is that these scumbags Nats will be out of government with their bag of loot before we can catch them out once and for all.
6/03/2013 5:52:42 p.m.
Golden handshakes seems to be Key's "fix it quick" strategy. I remember the debacle back in 2007 with the Police holding a disciplinary hearing for disgraced assistant commissioner Clint Rickard's sexual claim from Louis Nicholas. Keys reaction was to just give Rickard a golden handshake and let him move on. To which then PM Helen Clarke said was a ludicrous suggestion and reckless with public money..
6/03/2013 4:51:08 p.m.
Why is Ms longstone not speaking up? she is obviously a very intelligent woman way ahead of Parata hence the fallout, but by her silence she is being made out to be the the problem when we all know who it really is.It's my guess that she has been gagged with her large payout and is unable to speakup for fear of losing it under this dishonest government.
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