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Education boss Lesley Longstone quits with golden handshake

Education ministry ceo Lesley Longstone has resigned from her role with a golden handshake, amid the Novopay staff payment debacle.

Education Minister Hekia Parata today acknowledged the resignation Ms Longstone, and thanked her for her efforts leading the Ministry.

Ms Longstone’s resignation was announced this afternoon by State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie.

“I acknowledge Ms Longstone’s efforts during her time at the Ministry,” Ms Parata says in a brief statement.

“It has been a difficult period and there have been a series of tough issues to deal with.

“I will be making no further comment on the departure of Ms Longstone.

Mr Rennie says with two years left to run on the contract, Ms Longstone will be receiving some form of compensation.

“Consideration will be made for the fact she has finished her contract early.”

Her role finishes on February 8 and former social development ministry ceo Peter Hughes will step in the following day as acting ceo until a permanent replacement is found.

Since Australian company Talent2 (formerly Morgan & Banks) was paid $30 million to develop Novopay four months ago, thousands of teachers have been incorrectly paid or not paid at all.

Earlier last month another hole in the Novopay payroll system emerged when it was discovered a school could see the pay, and edit details, of a teacher who worked for another school.

Mr Rennie says he and Ms Longstone came to the view a change in leadership was required, in the best interests of the ministry.

“Lesley is a highly capable and dedicated professional who has been strongly committed to achieving better education outcomes for all New Zealanders”

He has not ruled out reappointing Ms Longstone in the future “for the right role.”

“There‘s clearly been a strained relationship between the minister and chief executive. Clearly there’s now an opportunity for the ministry to go forward.”

Mr Rennie says from time to time chief executives and ministers will have strained relationships, but most of it never becomes public.

“I have a responsibility for thinking about how any ministry goes forward, and this is a critical ministry for New Zealand. It spends over $12 billion of taxpayers’ money, it’s dealing with one of the important issues of our future. Key to any ministry succeeding is an effective relationship between a minister and ceo.”

Mr Rennie says clearly if it is not the case, as in this example, then something needs to change.

Details have not yet been released of Ms Longstone’s payout but Mr Rennie says the package falls within the auditor-general’s guidelines for severance payments in the public sector.


More by Blair Cunningham and NBR Staff

Comments and questions

This is not at all surprising and it is good that Peter Hughes is going to stand in after Lesley goes. So the TEC CEO goes and now Longstone, might we have some major problems in the sector? And what about Hekia Parata's role in all this mess? With a reshuffle coming will she survive?

And what does this latest failure say about the SSC? Isn't this the second poor decision involving a Prisoner of Mother England?

Unbelievable ! Yet another import that's failed to perform.

Longstone will be missed. She was a good operator and called things the way they were, rather than all the realpolitik we get from polititians of all persuasions. Drew a short straw with Novopay. Contract tendered and signed under Labour and a timebomb for National.

Minister, sword, fall. Yeah, right.

Well - I hope the replacement can sort out the educational unions once and for all!

I mean, how wrong can it be to have activist unions biting the hand that feeds them, whilst actively undermining this governments attempts at creating better educational outcomes for the 20% that are failing in schools.

Why is it that the only troubles / issues are in industries and workplaces where there are unions?

National just needs to create a law making it illegal for State sector / public funded employees to stop/stymie/stall any attempts at "continuous improvement" - that would completely get the unions knickers in a twist... as they only want 1950's style work practises - where only their voice is the one to be heard.

Why do we tolerate 3rd party interlopers - who some operate illegally - to be able to hold NZ Inc and children's learning to ransom, with better outcomes for children prostituted by education unions for (attempted) political gains? Why? When will it stop?

That stinks! Is morally corrupt and steals better possibilities from innocent children as they are used as innocent political pawns by the unions & Labour - all aimed against National.

About time National started insisting the respective Authorities ensure ALL the unions comply with their minimum annual financial reporting... 7 years late in some instances is plenty of time to set-up, hide and syphon off plenty of slush... like they do in Aussie...

Who is looking? Or will the Auditor General be caught with pants around ancles?

I am not sure about the golden handshake considering the performance of the Ministry under her management.

Hekia Parata has taken all the stick on the erors made within the Ministry to date which is admirable but unfair. It has been long overdue that there was more accountability in the Ministry senior staff.

Of course she gets a golden handshake! We can do without a couple of teachers to cover that - its not like we actually pay them or anything!

Well good riddance. WHY do we keep bringing to New Zealand these senior public servants from the UK who have failed in their own country? Ms Longstone created problems from the moment she arrived and failed to grasp the culture of our South Pacific country. Now we as taxpayers give her a golden handshake and send her packing. Another failed import.

If she resigned why should she get a payout at all ????

The press release is not very helpful. "Strained relationships" tells us nothing about what is going on in Education and whether or not Longstone's resignation will fix anything. The confuscation around Christchurch schools and Novopay cannot be generated and maintained by just one person.

The MOE is a shocking outfit from their ERO process, to failed staffing formula, Christchurch Schools, MOE project managers, leaky building process and now No va pay. Hopefully we get someone who is capable of running this organisation.

If the contractee wishes to end the contract then I can see why a golden handshake might be paid out to the contractor to compensate for this

But why on earth would somebody who has resigned be entitled to a golden handshake? this beggars belief. she should refuse the money andoffer it up to the teachers and schools who have had their lives messed around by these novopay cock up

What is the logic of a "handshake" for a job / contract not completed ?????

Longstone was brought in becasuse this Government made a commitment to charter schools and she had experience in it. Class sizes increases have been a long term goal of certain individuals in Treasury and was convenient to a Government looking to cut costs. Novopay was signed by this Government prior to Longstones arrival. Yes I think she was naive and probably had no idea of the extent of political determination in operational matters or the controversies that Government policies would generate. But that is all. I think she has been put in an impossible situation.

Why should your employer pay you (golden handshake) when you resign? Bizarre. About time Govt started behaving a bit more like the private sector. Or is 'resign' a more palatable word (for both parties) than being 'sacked'?

Failure of an employee (CEO) to maintain good relationship with employer (Minister), failure in inumerous projects, failure to raise educational standards, poor performance ovelall and resignation!!!!!
Shouldn't Ms Longstone be dealt with the poor performance under labour legislation, and maybe pay a gold handshake to government, alias tax payer?

Another imported incompetent? I am appalled that she is getting a 'golden handshake'. She has not completed her contract and should not be paid. If I do my job badly then I will be fired immediately and not received only the pay pertaining to the current period. Now for the Pariah Perata...then John ''the buck should stop here'" Key....please. From delivering world standard education, New Zealand is now the laughing stock of the world for the shambles its Education sector is in. Disgraceful.

Do they hire New Zealanders any more?

It is crazy she gets a payout. She hasn't done a good job and she's leaving of her own choice. Why on earth gift her more money for nothing??? It stinks like corruption, by the suits for the suits.

#1 - yes it is: just because we speak english does not mean we are culturally " on all fours" and that's just from a pakeha to british caucasian perspective.

Labour Party and their trade union sycophants,have their fingerprints all over the resignation of Ms Longstone.Would almost say that she has been allegedly set up by faceless Min of Education employees.Seems the teacher unions in NZ dominate our run of the mill Education System.They love to blame Ms Parata,yet in fact they are the real enemy within.

Clearly it was her chucking all the suicide passes to Hekia on education

Another leftie bureaucrat shown the door. Good riddance.

Only about 100000 to go

I met her and I thought she did quite a good job in difficult circumstances .At least she fronted the media .Tough but fair .And I admire her for falling on the sword .Not all problems were her doing .
Parata ....hmmmm .Who would have thunk Tolley would be made to look good ?

The P.M. is too busy to comment but isn't too busy to dance "Gangnam Style" on two radio stations??

To avoid having to pay the golden handshake, they should put her final pay through the Novopay system. That way it will come out as $0.10 rather than the close to $1 million it would be otherwise.

She was appointed under National (but not by National under our SSC system), and tasked with implementing a Labour payroll project (among other things) that has proved beyond her. The question is - how competent is the SSC, and how sensitive is it to the politics of the day? If the Minister can't appoint the head of the Ministry, but is blamed for its shortcomings there is inevitably going to be conflict between the Minister and the head of the Ministry. Imagine if the board of a company couldn't appoint the CEO of the company. I know the SSC system is supposed to avoid poiltical appointments and a neutral public service, but has the model outlived its usefulness?

All this leaves Hekia as a "Lame duck" Minister not daring to do anything in case it goes wrong. Thus she daren't do anything. This at a time when National is asleep at the wheel ,sleepwalking to defeat by a pathetically weak opposition. Time for some action John! The only Minister that seems to be alive is Judith Collins .I am not sure that all she does is correct but at least there is a pulse!

Defies belief, that Iain Rennie doesn't go as well. This incompetent has gone way passed his use-by date.

How much of this mess is the legacy left by the worst Education Minister in living memory - Ann Tolley?

John Key needs to give Parata more support for strongly supporting his and the cabinets policies and put a stop to the teachers unions running the education system which currently supports mediocrity

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