Joyce to take on handling of Novopay

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins says the prime minister's decision to hand responsibility for the vexed Novopay system to Steven Joyce is a sign of his lack of confidence in Education Minister Hekia Parata.

Prime Minister John Key announced Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce would take over the handling of the Novopay system from his associate education minister Craig Foss in today's Cabinet reshuffle.

The system, which handles the pay of school staff, has been plagued with errors since it was introduced last year. Mr Key said it was time for a "fresh set of eyes" to try to resolve the problems.

Despite a trouble-filled 2012, Ms Parata has kept her portfolio and her front bench ranking.

Mr Hipkins said Novopay should be handled by the Education Minister and Key's choice of Mr Joyce over Ms Parata was clearly a snub.

"It doesn't say much for his confidence in Hekia Parata that he has taken the biggest issue currently boiling away in the education portfolio and given it to someone else to deal with. If Hekia Parata is going to be the Minister of Education she should be the Minister of Education and what we are seeing is that whenever there is a big challenge in education, John Key is going to pick it up and give it to someone else."

He predicted Gerry Brownlee would start to take over the handling of the restructure of Christchurch schooling "and Hekia Parata will effectively be Minister of Education in title only".

Making the announcement Mr Key said resolving the "systemic issues" of Novopay was a priority, but could take some time.

Mr Hipkins said it remained to be seen whether Mr Joyce was up to the job "but this has been going on for months and months and teachers still aren't being paid".

- Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald

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