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Parata focus of Novopay action

Tuesday 26 Feb 2013 4:41 p.m.

The taxpayer looks set to face more cost over the Novopay bungle, with the Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) taking legal action to get financial compensation for those affected.

It's seen renewed calls for Education Minister Hekia Parata to be sacked. And that's a feeling shared by a majority of voters in the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll, who agree she must go.

Ms Parata was greeted by a chorus of booing from a crowd of thousands this weekend. But the boos aren't even from teachers. It’s the weekend's Matatini kapa haka competition, Maoridom's biggest public event. It's symbolic of a prevailing public attitude that Ms Parata is "beyond redemption".

But the Education Minister isn't going anywhere.

“I'm very excited about it and I come to work every day excited about it,” she says.

And today came yet more "excitement" – legal action from the secondary teacher's union over the Novopay debacle. It wants teachers to get financial compensation for the hurt, humiliation and financial suffering it has caused.

“Somebody needs to be held accountable and somebody needs to provide compensation to our members,” says PPTA president Angela Roberts.

That "somebody" would likely be you, the taxpayer, because Government ministers signed off on Novopay, including Ms Parata.

“She is an incompetent Minister of Education,” says Greens co-leader Metiria Turei. “John Key should never have reappointed her, and she must go.”

A 3 News poll asked 1000 voters if Mr Key should have sacked Ms Parata as Education Minister, and 59 percent said yes, she should have gone. Just 25 percent agreed that she should have stayed.

“I think the public has lost confidence in Hekia Parata,” says Labour Education spokesman Chris Hipkins. “I think John Key is the only person who has confidence in her really.”

There's been the class size reversal, the chief executive's departure, Christchurch school closures and more. But when it comes to keeping the job, only one opinion matters, and Mr Key says she stays.

“She's passionate about the issues that matter in education,” says Mr Key. “Let’s judge her when she's had a bit more time in the job.”

So Novopay is about to hit the courts. It can't be dismissed as a stunt. The PPTA has 18,000 members and a huge financial war chest. It can afford the legal bills.

As if things couldn't get any worse for Ms Parata, the Government looks like it will now be locked in a protracted legal battle with teachers.

3 News

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