Today in politics: Tuesday, July 17

Last updated 05:00 17/07/2012

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ACADEMICS GIVE LEAGUE TABLES A FAILING GRADE

More than 100 academics have written to the Government opposing primary school league tables. The group – a third of whom are professors or associate professors – issued an open letter yesterday, outlining four problems with league tables.

Among them were that national standards data was unsuitable for comparing schools and that league tables were educationally harmful.

Prime Minister John Key has supported some sort of league tables being published by the Education Ministry, which has promised to issue a report on the data in September.

MCCULLY KEEPS LIVING UP TO HIS NICKNAME

Minister for Keeping Things Close to His Chest Murray McCully has come under fire again for, well, not releasing information.

Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman, Phil Goff, was already miffed by Mr McCully issuing a heavily edited version of his briefing as incoming minister.

He then refused to let his Budget papers be included in a Treasury release last month. Yesterday Mr Goff added another complaint: long after every other ministry has answered questions from select committees about Budget estimates, Mr McCully’s office still refused to comply.

BANKS GOES IN TO BAT FOR LANDLORDS

ACT leader John Banks has jumped to landlords’ defence after Labour spokeswoman Annette King said the accommodation supplement needed a ‘‘hard look’’ because landlords were pocketing the $1.2 billion ‘‘subsidy’’ despite providing substandard housing.

‘‘The real problem is not the subsidy, it is a result of a lack of land supply for residential housing which is pushing up house prices and therefore pushing up rents for all tenants,’’ he said.

Increases in the cost of housing left homeowners with less money to invest in doing up their properties.

A KEY ABSENCE NOT EXCUSABLE TWICE

Twice in a row Prime Minister John Key has dispensed with his Monday afternoon press conference, the main opportunity each week to quiz him on current issues.

Last week it was canned because there was no Cabinet meeting. Yesterday Mr Key gave a speech in Queenstown to the Local Government Conference but should have been back for his 4pm presser.

It may be too soon to accuse him of taking a leaf out of Helen Clark’s crisis management book, but her tactics included waiting so long that TV stations struggled to meet the deadline for their 6pm bulletins.

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- The Dominion Post

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