How’s about that transparency we were told Jacinda and the Greens would bring to government?

How’s about that transparency we were told Jacinda and the Greens would bring to government?

Turns out not so much, according to Stacy Kirk at Fairfax:

The Government is facing a mountain of questions – more than 6000 to be exact.

They’ve been lodged by an army of National MPs with nothing but time on their hands?and it should be no surprise to Labour Ministers, who have so far refused to release much detail, if any, about their first actions in office.

In a 100-day programme, where major reform is being pushed through at break-neck speed, that is cause for concern.

Claims of “hypocrisy” levelled by some commentators at National’s record in Government are?true, but they’re no defence.We should all be demanding those answers.? ?

And it might be early,?but on the current trend those accusations aren’t far from being squarely levelled back to Labour. They and the Greens made much of their desire to “bring transparency back to Government” on the campaign trail.

And where is it? Another bumper sticker slogan. Virtue signalling the electorate.

Labour is also yet to release what’s known as the “Briefings to Incoming Ministers” – or BIMs.

They are the documents prepared by the experts and officials, delivered to ministers in their first week to give them a crash course on the portfolio they’ve just been handed – in some cases rendering them responsible overnight for the spending of public funds totalling billions.

All of them have been requested under the Official Information Act by reporters across New Zealand. All of them have been denied by the Government on the grounds they’re about to be released publicly anyway.?

The trouble with that is the law actually applies to occasions where the document in question is yet to be printed or the minister hasn’t had a chance to read it first.

These were read by the ministers more than a month ago, and its understood to decision on when?to release the BIMs – state sector wide – is to come from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Jacinda can’t make decisions? What’s the hold up, they’ve had them for a month, presumably read them? Why haven’t they been released? Why is Labour breaking the law? Transparency?

“[The section]?should not be used to delay the release of information which is intended to be incorporated in other material which, although to be made public at a later date, may still require the making of other policy decisions,” is the expressed order of the Ombudsman.

Looks like transparency promises were rather hollow.

Bill English gave Labour fair warning when he said “we’re not here to make this place run smoothly”. He copped criticism, but he’s right; they are there to hold the Government to account – nothing more.?

Many are familiar with the verbal jousting of Question Time?where this is publicly done. But Opposition MPs have another very important democratic tool available to them in the form of Written Questions.?

They can lodge questions to ministers on matters related to their portfolios, and ministers must respond within six working days. There is no limit as to how many questions can be lodged, they must be concise and?targeted.

Undoubtedly, 6000 written questions?in a month?is a lot.

But is it fair to demand those answers??Absolutely.?Is it hypocritical of National to be complaining they’re being blocked??You bet.?Does that matter? Not one bit.

Because the answers, or at least the willingness to provide those answers, benefit New Zealand as a democracy.?

Finally a Media party member who knows reality when they see it.

In July 2010 Labour asked 8791 questions in a single month.

More than?7000 of those questions came from MP?Trevor Mallard alone.

Now in the Speaker’s chair, it’s his jurisdiction to force answers where they are not fairly being withheld if a complaint is laid.

Labour is getting off to a poor start on transparency.?

What goes around, comes around.

 

-Fairfax

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