by David Clendon
We heard earlier this week that Steven Joyce is to replace Anne Tolley as Tertiary Education Minister. Leaving any unkind comment on the reasons for Mrs Tolley’s replacement aside for now, I’ve been wondering what this means for the Tertiary Education portfolio. Is Mr Joyce’s appointment good news, or bad?
Well, on the one hand, since Mrs Tolley dedicated very little time to the Tertiary sector since she took office, her replacement will be good news no matter who it is if it means more time devoted to the portfolio.
And there’s some evidence that Mr Joyce might have a bit of fun in him – the Otago University Students’ Association unearthed the fact that in a past life he was a student radio DJ and welcomed his appointment on that account.
Joyce was only elected in 2008, but already he’s built up a bit of a reputation as the Government’s “Mr Fix-it”, and not in a good way. As Transport Minister, he’s shown no propensity to look for innovative approaches to challenges, preferring to blindly focus on roads and motorways despite ample evidence that roads are not a smart solution.
As the Tertiary Education Union point out, “Tertiary education needs a minister who can champion the end of funding cuts, who will invest in opportunities and access for new students, and who will drive innovative blue skies research.”
Joyce might quickly learn that if he brings his “be reasonable, do it my way” approach from Transport to this portfolio things could get fraught.
The jury is out, and we’ll be watching with interest.