Making a meal of the Greens

Wanna know if Anne Tolley sought advice from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, or Sport and Recreation New Zealand on her decision to remove the National Administrative Guideline requiring schools to sell only healthy food; if so, what concerns, if any, were raised?

Of course you do, after Alf teased you into becoming curious.

Answering Sue Kedgley’s question in Parliament today, Education Minister Tolley said yes, she did seek advice from the Ministry of Education.

She deftly skipped mentioning the other agencies. Nimble, we Nats.

She said –

A concern was raised that money previously spent on the policy may be seen by the public to have been wasted.

The ministry also advised me that, as with any policy change, there was a risk of some criticism.

What has become clear to me from discussions with the sector is that this regulation was confusing and burdensome. Rather than retain onerous regulations for boards of trustees and principals, this Government trusts them to make appropriate choices about healthy food.

The Minister of Health totally supports the decision.

Kedgley was keen to learn how schools could have been confused and opposed to the guidelines, when public health nutritionist Bronwen King had said most schools, in her experience, had embraced the guideline positively and had been right behind “providing a food environment that promotes better learning and behaviour.”

Oh, and a Waikato school food coordinator had told Kedgley she had not heard of one complaint about the guidelines amongst the 150 schools she dealt with.

But Tolley doesn’t dispute that many schools have done work in the area to ensure their students can make informed decisions.

“We are not asking schools to change their existing practices. They are free to decide on an individual school basis how they promote healthy food and drink.

“From all the comments that I have seen in the media and have received personally, our confidence in schools’ judgment is well placed.”

On the question of physical activity, Tolley said that – unlike the Labour Government – the Key Administration won’t be using computer games on expensive websites to lure kids out into the playing fields.

As Minister of Education I am focused on getting more schoolchildren engaged in regular physical activity, and on working with the Minister of Health and the Minister for Sport and Recreation on plans to get more schoolchildren regularly participating in sports teams and clubs.

A raft of documents related to the issue was tabled before the House moved on to the next question.

They included ACT’s Rodney Hide seeking leave to table a document
showing that

for the Greens, it is OK for our kids to smoke dope, but what they cannot do is have a cake now and again.

Because there was no objection the document was laid on the Table of the House.

Only then did the sluggish Greenie Keith Locke raise a point of order –

I do not know quite what document—

Too late. The House had already dealt with it, whatever it was.

Alf has some advice: Locke’s wits might be sharpened and his response time quickened if he tucked into a good pie or two much more often.

And then washed it down with a couple of pints of good lager.

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