Chippie and Nikki

Audrey Young writes:

Education Minister Chris Hipkins received an unusual request last week.

It was from National’s education spokeswoman, Nikki Kaye, asking a favour.

Kaye had booked the rose garden café in Wellington’s botanical gardens for the launch of her important education policy document this week and got word that it was on the same day that Hipkins was planning his own big press conference on Tomorrow’s Schools.

She asked if he could change days to avoid a clash – and he obliged.

He did his on Tuesday and she did hers on Wednesday.

Sensible not to clash, but many wouldn’t have been sensible.

It tells us, first, that there is an awful lot going on in the education policy space in both the Opposition and the Government and, second, that the two leading politicians have an excellent working relationship even if it is not always evident in the House.

There is more collaboration than combat to the relationship.

One can agree to disagree, even strongly, but still have a good working relationship.

The collaboration between Hipkins and Kaye has not meant there is no opposition to policies.

Kaye and National leader Simon Bridges criticized the initial review into Tomorrow’s Schools which transferred many of powers to regional bureaucracies as an attempt to take control of schools from parents and put principals on short-term contracts.

It was also characterised by Bridges as a restructuring that would lower educational outcomes in higher performing schools rather than lifting the poorer performing schools.

It struck a nerve.

Hipkins was not ideologically wedded to the hubs and made the taskforce consult on their proposals – which is how they have changed to more a politically and publicly acceptable version of regional hubs.

Labour would have lost the election if they had proceeded with their hubs proposal.

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