The next Education Minister needs to take on and destroy the teacher unions, but Chris Holden reckons they will be as meek as a mouse.
One could easily be forgiven for thinking Parliament is increasingly becoming a place where MPs are more concerned about their public profile and political ambitions than they are about implementing real change.
In my view Hekia Parata was different.
Why? Because Hekia Parata couldn’t care less what people think of her, no matter how many union busses were parked on the Parliamentary forecourt bearing unionists armed to the teeth with placards and megaphones protesting against her proposed changes.
Appointed as the Minister of Education in 2011, Hekia Parata had one single political ambition: Lift the standard of educational outcomes in New Zealand.
I saw this first hand while I worked in Hekia’s ministerial office on the fifth floor of the Beehive last year.
Looking back, there was no such thing as a too-hard basket in Hekia’s office.
Rather, there was a flying pig hanging from the ceiling over a boardroom-style table, which exists as a symbolic representation of Hekia’s unrivalled dedication to achieve what some might consider the politically impossible.
As the Minister of Education, Hekia had to front-foot hard, controversial and often unpopular decisions.
She had to close schools, defend charter schools (a product of ACT’s confidence and supply agreement with National) and oversee a review of the Education Act.
In my view, Hekia Parata will leave Parliament sometime next year with the firmly held belief the education system is in a better place than when she took over the portfolio from Anne Tolley.