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April 7, 2009 | by  | in News |
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The Great Tolley Hunt: A birds-eye view

Anne Tolley’s credibility was dealt another blow today in Question Time when Opposition Leader Phil Goff asked if the Prime Minister had confidence in all his ministers.

English—in Key’s absence—responded that he did, only to be asked a supplementary question by Goff about Tolley’s use of a helicopter to view Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) multiple campuses.

English said that it is “normal for ministers to take rides in helicopters.”

Goff suggested that Google Maps would have been a better way to get an aerial view on the cheap.

The question of fiscal responsibility of a helicopter ride when 70 Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) staff are being laid off was asked by Goff. English countered that the helicopter ride was not a “cavalier use of money” and that under the previous Labour Government the TEC had been allowed to bloat.

Maryan Street’s question asked if Tolley believes “she has a good overview of Auckland tertiary education issues”, was fielded by Associate Education Minister Dr. Wayne Mapp because Tolley was unsurprisingly absent from the house. Darren Hughes called a point of order, asking if the question could be held over till tomorrow when Tolley will be present. Hughes then went on to speculate that Tolley was heli-skiing in Queenstown.

This point of order was overruled by Speaker Dr. Lockwood Smith, and Mapp answered that the helicopter ride was at the suggestion of AUT.

Street then sought leave to to table a copy of Nexus containing The Great Tolley Hunt: The Sound of Silence, which was objected to by National.

When contacted by Salient, Tolley’s office said “The aim was to give the Minister a greater understanding of the specific areas of population growth in the Auckland area and the distance from those growth areas to tertiary education providers.”

In a press release after Question Time, Street said: “Given this and the belt-tightening facing many New Zealanders as a result of the recession, how can Mrs Tolley justify taking a helicopter tour of Auckland?”

NZUSA co-president Jordan King said “given that the North Shore campus of AUT is 5.6 kilometers from the city campus and given that the proposed Manukau site for AUT is only 19 km away from the city campus, it is simply a joy ride on the behalf of the minister and there is absolutely no justification why tax payer’s and student money—because it was paid for by AUT—should have contributed to such an excess.”

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The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

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  1. Rory Harnden says:

    Bridget noted her continued reluctance to actually step on any university ground seems to be long-standing.

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