Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Loudest One-Man Band

With ACT's future uncertain and an uneasy relationship between Epsom MP elect John Banks and the party closely watched, this is big news. Banks and Key have come to a confidence and supply agreement, with John Banks delivering great results for the party.

The agreement has impressed the party, with John Banks sticking to party principles and campaign promises such as school choices, limited government and spending, and monitoring our economic progress. His performance has been outstanding, and has been lauded by politico's everywhere as doing more with one seat than the five or more ACT has held previously.

Don Brash speaking at Corelli School, North Auckland
ACT may be a one-man caucus at present, but his effectiveness so far has been great, living up to his Epsom promise of being 'experienced and effective.' This will be a good public look that ACT is not as inept as the election critics would suggest, and if the pattern continues, will improve the image of ACT before the election. The relationship with the party, who do not see Banks as a devout ACT libertarian, will surely improve with this news. Party president Chris Simmons has already told the party that this is " testament to the hard work we have put in not only in the last week, or last month, but to the hard work we have all put in over many years." 

The most controversial feature in this agreement so far, is charter schools. ACT has long pushed for greater choice and freedom for parents and students in the education kids get. Don Brash released the ACT education policy at the independent Corelli School in Brown's Bay on Auckland's North Shore, where the focus was on "the money following the child" and offering schools the freedom in their business, and parents the choice in their child's education. Corelli was used, as it operates independently, with a focus on the performing arts, attracting bright students with potential in that field. 

Teacher unions are pissed off, as always. They point out we already have a successful and largely devolved education, which is true, but there is room for charter schools to emerge where there is demand for a different style of education. The main grievance is close to unions of course, that is the autonomy charter schools have in employment terms and conditions. They cite figures from the United States of charter schools failing, but the circumstances in the United States are far different, with independent and semi-independent schools in New Zealand already far outperforming their American counterparts.

John Key is happy with the deal. Unions will always be pissed off where freedom and choice drive policy. The real news in all of this is that John Banks is doing extremely well as a one man band in parliament, living up to ACT policies and ideas, and making great progress in coalition with National.

UPDATE: Close Up on TV One, at 7PM Tuesday 6th December, featured David Selfe from the Corelli School to support the idea of charter schools. He accused the PPTA (Post Primary Teacher's Association) of sticking their heads in the sand, and ignoring the idea that schools are already run like businesses, and it is denial to say this doesn't work.

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