Sir Bob Jones

Commentary on issues of the day from the property tycoon, author and former politician

Sir Bob Jones: How to make an MP's life miserable

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Hekia Parata, Minister of Education.
 Photo / Greg Bowker
Hekia Parata, Minister of Education. Photo / Greg Bowker

While sitting thinking virtuous thoughts recently, my life-long practice to an almost monastic degree, it appalled me to realise that the Prime Minister is both a misogynist and a racist. Consider the compelling evidence.

Old political hands will tell you that, if as Prime Minister you deeply loathe someone and sadistically crave to make their life miserable, you appoint them Minister of Education. Research in Britain and Australia proves that every year as Minister of Education takes three years off one's life expectancy.

So given this, why does the Prime Minister, with a minority of women in his Cabinet, cruelly pick only on them? As a life-long fervent feminist, I'm outraged.

But this year he's taken this vileness further and targeted his sole Maori woman MP as his next Education Minister victim, in the process achieving a racist and misogynist persecution double-whammy.

Well, he's not fooling me. Beneath that benevolent smile, as his education portfolio appointments evidence, lies much seething wickedness.

The role of Minister of Education has always been a nightmare posting. If you're Minister of Agriculture then you're subject to intelligent dialogue with Federated Farmers. If Justice Minister, you can wallow in the ego-inflating pleasure of issuing pompous utterances, interspersed with all-night drunken sessions with the Law Society, and so it goes.

But Minister of Education; God help the poor buggers, confronted as they always have been with embittered, self-important nobodies, as teacher union representatives invariably are.

Readers may consider I'm being too charitable with that description. Well, I can't help it, temperance having been my life-long practice. But I'd be a great deal more if instead of endless moaning, the teachers' union focused on promoting English, science and history and abandoned film studies, Maori wonderfulness, gender studies, et al bogus subjects, now so prevalent.

I've speculated why teacher unions are so ghastly when compared with other lobbying bodies. My conclusion is that they have never left the school-room or grown up and that if we resurrected corporal punishment and delivered a daily flogging to these unionists, it might produce a general amelioration.

But it's not only in Britain, Australia and New Zealand that pedagogues' representatives are so pathetic and unrepresentative of their teacher members, who individually can be splendid. I've observed their perpetual rage in many countries. Here are two examples.

In 1991, I popped over to Georgia to have a look at proceedings when the civil war broke out. One night in Tbilisi, my wife and I were guests of some university academics in an outdoor restaurant near the river. Abruptly the night erupted with explosions and for half an hour, mortars rocketed over our heads from across the river. Our Georgian friends took a nonchalant approach to this. "Relax," they said, "it's just the school teachers' union bombing Parliament," this over some trivia they were whining about.

That experience, however, was moderate compared to one a decade later in Malawi. Perhaps I should have been less surprised with what transpired, given the worldwide reporting of an incident there two months earlier, which readers may recall.

That was the news that all 29 Catholic nuns in a Malawian nunnery had been impregnated by local priests on the grounds, as the priests protested, that they could hardly be expected to ravish the local women given their high incidence of Aids.

Anyway, after two weeks here and there, we arrived at our Blantyre hotel. At 6pm I turned on the television news. The lead item was the president of the Malawian Women's Institute carrying on about school teachers having it off with schoolgirls.

She was followed by the Malawian school teachers' association president.

Never have I witnessed such explosive anger. He was livid and I would describe him as being white with rage, but in the circumstances that would be pushing it.

"Do you realise how little my members are paid?" he shouted at the Women's Institute president, who began to look remorseful.

"Are you demanding my members risk their lives with you Aids-ridden lot? This is the sole perk of the job," he exploded, and the Women's Institute lady became almost apologetic, a refreshing response given my experience of such complainants, despite the reasonableness of counter-arguments as in this case, a viewpoint I concede was not shared by my partner watching with me.

So while I don't wish to put ideas in the heads of our teacher union whiners, I suppose by some standards they're verging on being reasonable, a poor comfort, mind you, for our succession of long-suffering, life-shortened women Education Ministers.

It's time the Prime Minister laid off the ladies.

- NZ Herald

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