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March 16, 2009 | by  | in News |
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The Great Tolley Hunt II: The Sound of Silence

Tertiary Education Minister Hon Anne Tolley last week wasted $400 of student money when she failed to keep an appointment with national tertiary student representatives.

New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations co-presidents Jordan King and Sophia Blair were scheduled to meet with Tolley on 9 March.

King and Blair, who are touring New Zealand tertiary institutions, flew from Auckland to Wellington, only to be told that Tolley’s office had forgotten the appointment. The meeting had been confirmed twice by Tolley’s office in mid-February, but it was later discovered they had been incorrectly booked for 9 April, King said.

Tolley’s press secretary apologised after King emailed to complain.

“I emailed to say how annoyed I was, given we broke off our tour to fly down especially, and given how Tolley is unavailable next week and overseas the week after.”

King said NZUSA had sought a meeting with Tolley since she was appointed, and even invited her to address their January conference, but “it’s taken her four months to get back to us.”

King said Tolley had been in meetings with the Association of Private Education Providers and the Industry Training Federation soon after the Government’s election, yet declined an invitation to speak at NZUSA’s January conference, and “did not acknowledge our desire to have a meeting until February.”

“We are very concerned about student welfare, and the potential direction of government policy relating to the wider tertiary sector – the Minister needs to hear such concerns and work inclusively with students to address them.”

Tolley has proven difficult for many student publications to get in contact with. Craccum, Salient and Critic have tried on numerous occasions over several months to talk with the Minister—or organise a time to talk—only to be seemingly ignored. However, when Jackson Wood (editor of Salient) called her office, her press secretary said they had received only two interview requests from the student media. One was from Critic, who supposedly failed to respond with a requested list of questions.

Critic Editor Amy Joseph explains that Critic is seeking a phone interview to introduce Tolley to the student body of Otago, and throughout the country through the The Aotearoa Student Press Association (ASPA) newswire, but Tolley’s people have refused this request. “We will email questions to Tolley as appropriate for specific stories, but right now we simply want to give her the chance to introduce herself to the tertiary students of New Zealand,” Joseph said. “We were also informed in a phone conversation with her press staff that there was no guarantee our emailed questions will be answered, and no timetable for when she may consent to an interview.”

Wood says, “We’ve tried everything short of stapling questions to her door. ASPA has an audience of over 80,000 students with whom she could directly communicate. Students are apprehensive about the National government. Some inkling of what’s going on in her head in terms of policy would be nice.”

Craccum co-editor Matthew Harnett had a similar response: “At first we were kind of joking with the “Tolley Hunt” thing. But actually, she is one tough MP to get in contact with. I would’ve thought, as the Minister of Tertiary Education, she might like to chat with the people her portfolio affects. Guess not.”

When asked why she didn’t respond, Anne Tolley didn’t respond.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Evans says:

    You will be waiting a very long time.

    Early signs are that Anne Tolley will be the most lightweight Minister of Education we have seen for a very long time.

    You really need a Member of Parliament with more substantial experience, and qualifications, to make a go of this portfolio.

    Just out of interest, does anyone know what tertiary qualification she has earned?

    Ev

  2. Jackson Wood says:

    School of hard knocks.

    SHE DOESN’T HAVE A DEGREE!

    But she is taking but is currently taking a graduate diploma business studies. This inspires confidence.

    This explains why she’s doing such a good job because she is a fresh face, coming at it from an angle that most former ministers of Tertiary education could never come from.

  3. Matt says:

    Don’t forget her diploma in computer programming from several decades ago. It implies she’s riding the knowledge wave to our beautiful fibre-optic future.

  4. Evans says:

    There must a power behind the throne.

    John Key? No he could probably not be bothered.

    Bill English? Was an Education spokesman, and not too flash either. Could be influential.

    Heather Roy and Pita Sharples, Associate Ministers – may be keeping heads down for now and who would blame them. Have heard nothing from them.

    Pansy Wong – was one of Nats spokespersons with shallow perspective – possibly still interested.

    Judith Collins, Paula Benett, other promiennt women Nat MPs – yes, well ..

    Allan Peachey – Chairman of subcommittee on Education. I am sure he would a agree that he has proven experience in Education. It is how that is translating to Politics that is in question. Bound to be influential but taking us all where?

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