Bridges sends Government to the naughty corner

Teachers striking at Coronation Park in Mount Maunganui. Photos: Sam Gardner.

As striking primary teachers abandoned their blackboards today, the Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges went into bat for them.

“All teachers deserve more money and better conditions, and one way or another, they will get it.”

The Tauranga MP and Leader of the Opposition comes from a family of teachers. His mother, brother, sister and grandmother were teachers.

“And we need to ensure teachers are acknowledged as highly respected professionals in our communities.”

The Government had suggested the strike action by 30,000 primary teachers and principals was premature, that they should have continued negotiating. But Simon Bridges turned the heat back on the Government.

“The strike makes clear the Government over-promised prior to the election. They were like Santa throwing out a Christmas present. And hard-working teachers thought they would be the children who would be getting a big gift. Sadly Santa hasn’t got any gifts or them.”

He says that’s because the government has made its priorities.

“And it’s decided to prioritise pet projects for Winston Peters and a bunch of other big spends like tertiary free fees.”

And while the Government says it just doesn’t have the money to pay the teachers, Simon says that’s simply not true.

“The Government has very strong books albeit with an economy coming off the heat a bit and the state of those books worsening.”

The dispute is not just about pay but also conditions.

“That’s why over the past few weeks I have been emphasising smaller class sizes. Because that in itself would allow teachers to focus on what matters to them and to parents - individual one-on-one time with kids.”

Today’s teachers strike was the first in 24 years. But Simon Bridges doesn’t necessarily support direct action saying that, ultimately, they don’t make New Zealanders richer.

“If it were that simple it would be great.”

He says it’s about having a strong business confidence and a growing economy, where businesses and the Government though its tax take, have the ability in a sustainable way to pay more.  

With the nurses striking recently, and now the teachers, the national Party leader suggests New Zealand is in a period of great industrial unrest.

“We have had more strikes and threats of them in the last few months than we have had over the last decade. Where’s it going to end?”


Short memory

Posted on 24-08-2018 17:22 | By Told you

Simon you tend to forget you had Parata in charge of education and look what she did, so it is a bit strong coming out about the coalition,absolute shambles under National.

PM in waiting

Posted on 16-08-2018 10:49 | By Moshe

Keep it up Simon, this accidental govt must me kept accountable for over promising. National kept the reigns well under control to prevent the horse bolting, and would have been able to prevent the strike by feeding the fresh abundant remuneration and resources to win the race. Now we as NZers will have uncontrolled chaos on the track. By the way Santa was supposed to be imaginary not real.


Posted on 15-08-2018 20:18 | By politis

To treat people like fools. As if the public is not aware of the dismissive approach Simon and his colleagues had towards the teaching profession over many years. Far better to say "we got it wrong and are keen to learn and put it right". That would show leadership.


Posted on 15-08-2018 19:58 | By Hugh Janis

As part of a National Government who made huge steps toward privatising education in this country and implementing divisive initiatives (COL) you would be best to stay out of this Mr Bridges. No wonder your ’mother, brother, sister and grandmother WERE teachers’. The entire sector was weakened under National’s watch.

Oh no - not more....?

Posted on 15-08-2018 17:07 | By penguin

Bridges cannot seem to help himself. His so-called empathy for the teachers’ cause is, once again, just hollow political rhetoric. He says nothing about what national did not do, constructively, for education during its term in government. One day Simon might speak meaningfully about issues. But I won’t hold my breath since I may not stay alive.

Dear Simon

Posted on 15-08-2018 12:41 | By Merlin

Dear Simon why did you let it get to this stage in your nine years in Government.Because you screwed the public service to get a surplus.You could have fixed this but an ego trip for a flag would more than covered it.Now you talk about getting more teachers and lowering class sizes when in opposition.

Come on Simon.

Posted on 15-08-2018 12:28 | By astex

This looming problem was obvious during your lots time in office and you just kicked the can down the road.


Posted on 15-08-2018 12:10 | By overit

Close the stable door Simon after the horse has bolted.Your Govt. took and never gave back, gave yourselves a big pat on the back.

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