Thursday, April 24, 2014



Australia welches on open government

Last year, Australia announced that it was joining the Open Government Partnership. But now that Tony Abbott is in charge, they're backing out:

THE Abbott government is reconsidering Labor’s pledge to sign Australia up for a major international transparency and citizen engagement initiative.

Australia was expected to formally enter the Open Government Partnership this month, joining 63 other nations in rolling out action plans to make their governments more open and accountable to the public.

But Attorney-General George Brandis has instead passed responsibility for the OGP to the Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann. Senator Cormann was invited to attend a regional OGP meeting next month but will only send a mid-level bureaucrat — and just to watch.

Senator Cormann’s spokeswoman confirmed the OGP commitment — made almost a year ago — was under review.


The Abbott government has been no friend of open government, and has led a massive increase in secrecy since coming to power. So its not really surprising that they're now also backing away from international commitments in that area. It is however disappointing that a government in a modern, democratic state thinks it can get away with it. OTOH, looking at what else they get away with, their contemptuous attitude towards the public is hardly surprising.

A counterproductive waste of money

That's the quick assessment of Britain's participation in the "war on terror":

Britain's military operations since the end of the cold war have cost £34.7bn and a further £30bn may have to be spent on long-term veteran care, according to an authoritative study.

The bulk [£30 billion - I/S] of the money has been spent on interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan judged to have been "strategic failures", says the study, Wars in Peace, published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

In comments with particular resonance in the light of Tony Blair's speech on Wednesday exhorting the west to do more to defeat Islamic extremism, the RUSI study concludes that "there is no longer any serious disagreement" that Britain's role in the Iraq war served to channel and increase the radicalisation of young Muslims in the UK.


So much for "fighting them overseas to prevent terrorism at home". These vastly expensive wars, with their huge cost in money and human life have had exactly the opposite effect. Anyone who wasn't on Blairite kool-aid knew that from the start; the question is why the British establishment didn't, why they still fail to admit it, and when (if ever) those responsible for this senseless waste will be held to account.

The ICJ orders Australia to stop interfering with witnesses

Last year, in what was clearly the actions of a guilty government, the Australian government detained a former ASIS agent who was going to testify against them over their bugging of the government of East Timor, raiding his house and stripping him of his passport. But yesterday, the International Court of Justice ordered Australia to stop interfering with witnesses, and to allow him to appear before it:

An international panel of jurists has ordered Australia to make available East Timor’s star witness – a former Australian spy – in a high-stakes legal battle between the two countries over $40 billion of disputed oil and gas reserves.

In a major blow to Australia, the panel of jurists has cleared the way for the former Australian Secret Intelligence Service officer to testify that he helped bug East Timor's cabinet room during negotiations over the Greater Sunrise oil and gas fields.


Australia's dirty tactics against East Timor and the ICJ are coming back to haunt it. Witness intimidation, spying on lawyers, not to mention the original spying itself - they're looking like a rogue state with no respect for justice or international law. And it makes it clear that the primary purpose of their spies isn't "national security", but to enrich Australian businesses. Which really makes you wonder why Australian voters pay for them or permit them to have such intrusive powers.

The benefits of transparency

Ministerial expenses were released today, and as usual, I spent an hour trawling through the credit card statements hoping to find evidence of Ministers rorting us. So what did I find?

Nothing. No $1,000 a night luxury hotel rooms. No enormous piss-ups on the taxpayer's tab. No drinking away our money in the middle of the night in a lonely hotel room. And no Ministerial porn. The worst I can find is a $1,000 dinner held by Tim Groser which (as usual) has no detailed receipt (without which its difficult to judge whether he was extravagant or not), and that Todd McClay likes to have a kit-kat bar for breakfast every day.

This is the benefit of transparency: it improves behaviour. If you watch the scum, they stop rorting us. Simple.

An FPP politician in an MMP world

So, now that Shane Jones has gone, he's come clean about the reason: he didn't want to work alongside Russel Norman and the Greens. Which I think emphasises just how much of a throwback Jones was, and how unsuited he was to modern politics. Its been more than 20 years since we adopted MMP, and 18 since our first MMP election. Having to sit down and govern with people you were recently campaigning against and don't necessarily like is a fact of our political landscape, being able to do it and find the common ground in your agendas a vital skill. Jim Bolger could do it, governing with NZ First who had campaigned against everything he stood for. Helen Clark could do it, making peace with the Alliance, cutting a deal with Peter Dunne to maximise her freedom in government, and finally working with Winston, which is never easy. The Greens can do it, and found a narrow slice of common ground even with National. But here, at the end of his political career, Jones is saying that he lacks that skill, that he can't work with other parties. Like I said yesterday, good riddance.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014



Another reason why we need an enforceable BORA

Back in 2003, the then-Labour government, faced with the "threat" of an unpopular child-sex offender being released from prison at the end of their sentance, enacted the Parole (Extended Supervision) and Sentencing Amendment Act, allowing them to be detained for an extra ten years. Because the bill extended a criminal punishment not imposed at trial by legislative fiat, it was found by the then-Attorney-General to be inconsistent with the right to be free from retroactive penalties and double jeopardy affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act. This view was subsequently confirmed by the Court of Appeal in Belcher v Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections.

Fast forward ten years. The initial orders issued under the Act are expiring, meaning the government faces the "threat" of unpopular child sex offenders being released from prison at the end of their (extended) sentance. So naturally, they are proposing extending the law to allow harsh post-release conditions (including effective home detention and perpetual monitoring) to be extended indefinitely. Punishment without end! That'll get the "tough on crime" vote ensure these people are rehabilitated!

But as before, the Attorney-General doesn't buy it, and has ruled that the Extended Supervision Order regime is a criminal punishment which is inconsistent with the right to be free from retroactive penalties and double jeopardy affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act.

If the BORA functioned as it was supposed to, Parliament would listen, and not pass the bill. But we've seen in recent years that the BORA does not function that way. Governments pay no attention whatsoever to section 7 reports (except in the case of member's bills), and this government in particular seems to regard inconsistency with the BORA as a virtue rather than something to be avoided. And instead of stopping to think, they're bemoaning the fact that they won't be able to ram the bill through quickly enough. If the past is anything to go by, they'll simply ignore the Attorney-General, pass the bill, and bugger the BORA.

Parliament has shown that it will not protect our fundamental human rights. And as I have said then, and repeatedly since: if they will not do the job, then we need to take the job off them and give it to someone who will: the Supreme Court.

The Greens' "internet bill of rights"

Today the Green party released their draft Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill. The bill is a response to government interference in cyberspace via the GCSB Act, TICS, and the Skynet law, and is intended to limit government control. Interestingly, they're crowdsourcing it, setting up a website to solicit feedback on the draft before introduction.

I've been reading the full bill as well as the surrounding material. While the aim is admirable, the implementation is flawed.

Firstly, the good: the bill is a strong statement of principles for a free and open internet. It proposes creating an office with the role of defending internet rights and mediating disputes (but see below for the pitfalls in this). It also proposes a "Chief Technology Officer", a specialist adviser to the Prime Minister similar to the existing Chief Science Advisor, to advise on internet and IT policy generally. The name is unforgiveably corporate, but the idea is a good one. And it includes generic "safe harbour" provisions to ensure ISPs and network service providers are protected from the acts of their users and so able to function as common carriers.

The bad? As mentioned above, the bill is a great statement of principles. The problem is the implementation. The bill is strongly based on the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (complete with a "justified limitations" clause); however where the BORA applies only to the government or bodies performing a public function, the Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill also applies to "any agency, department, Internet service provider, online content host, network service provider, organisation, or telecommunications service provider". In English, that means Xtra, TradeMe, Kiwibank, Google and Facebook. As for enforcement, that will be the responsibility of the Internet Rights Commisisoner, Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Review Tribunal. That's right - the HRC and HRRT, specialist bodies based around human rights - will be policing account suspensions, comment deletions and website blockings. I'm not sure that they're really the best venue for that. They'll also be policing wider issues such as traffic shaping, data discrimination, and open source development. I'm not sure that they're the best venue for that either.

The enforcement of privacy on the net will also be the responsibility of the new Internet Rights Commissioner. I'm really not sure why the existing Privacy Commissioner can't handle that.

With respect to government action, there's a section 7-style reporting mechanism (which the government can of course ignore, just as it does when deciding to lock people up without trial after their prison sentence has been completed). There's some redundancy in the rights, in that the freedoms of expression and association (and indirectly, anonymity, encryption, and freedom from filtering) are already covered by the BORA; re-enacting them here could ironicly weaken existing BORA protections. As for the other rights, there will be some benefit in forcing Ministers to consider these issues before pursuing policy, and justify any departure from the principles in the Bill.

But overall, I think this is the wrong approach. Yes, there needs to be some general remedy for internet users against mistreatment by ISPs and service providers. Structuring it as a position like the Banking Ombudsman is probably better than putting it within the Human Rights Commission. As for the broader policy issues around net neutrality, filtering etc, Napoleon's principle applies. "If you want to take Vienna, take Vienna". And if you want to outlaw ISPS shaping customer traffic for anti-competitive reasons or erecting toll-gates on the information superhighway, then amend the Telecommunications Act to outlaw it. It wouldn't sound as great as an "internet bill of rights", but it would do the job better, and with more certainty of the outcome. Trying to use a general law to do it, without checking the underlying policy details, doesn't just risk failure - it also comes across as lazy.

"Shoulder-tapping" vs public service values

Another angle to the Shane Jones resignation:

Mr Jones said he would leave Parliament next month after he was shoulder tapped by Foreign Minister Murray McCully for a new role as a roving economic ambassador across the Pacific.

This is of course a total violation of public service values, and an unlawful exercise of Ministerial power.

For more than a hundred years, New Zealand has had a professional, politically neutral public service. In 1912 the Public Service Act removed Ministers from the appointment process, ending their ability to treat the public service as a means of rewarding their cronies. That ideal is given modern form in section 33 of the State Sector Act, which requires Chief Executives to act independently in employment matters, including appointments, promotions, demotions, transfers, disciplinary proceedings, or sackings. Chief Executives are explicitly not responsible to Ministers for these decisions. Ministers "shoulder tapping" preferred candidates for public service roles is precisely what the law is supposed to prevent. Instead, it looks like we're back to Seddon and his infamous "learn him".

Just a few years ago, both a Minister and a Chief Executive were forced to resign over unlawful interference in employment matters (the former by demanding that someone be sacked, the latter for obeying, then bowing to the "suggestion" of the next Minister to employ a crony). That lesson appears not to have been learned. Clearly we need to put some more heads on spikes, until Ministers and Chief Executives start obeying the law.

Some "democracy"

The UK calls itself a democracy. But if you try and present a petition to your local representative, their constituency staff will call the police on you:

David Cameron’s constituency office has come under fire for calling the police on the Bishop of Oxford and Reverend Hebden as they attempted to present him with an open letter on food poverty.

Their letter, part of the End Hunger Fast campaign, was signed by 42 Anglican bishops and more than 600 clerics and called on the three party leaders to work with the parliamentary inquiry into food poverty to implement its recommendations.

However, despite David Cameron’s Witney office expecting their visit, they were barred from presenting the letter and instead greeted by three police officers. Around 40 people had walked to his office following a service, and while the congregation stood on the opposite side of the road, the Rt Revd John Pritchard and Rev Hebden went to deliver the letter on their own. The police “weren’t there very long” when they realised the situation, Reverend Keith Hebden told The Independent, saying that they could see Cameron’s office staff looking out the window as they were forced to abandon their visit.


I can't think of a better example of the arrogant attitudes of Britain's rulers to the people they claim to represent.

Good riddance

Last night, Shane Jones dropped the bombshell that he would be quitting Parliament and the Labour party to work as a "roving ambassador" for Murray McCully. Good riddance. While pegged from the beginning as a "future leader" and "high performer", Jones has consistently underperformed in Parliament, his time there more memorable for scandals and blunders than any policy achievements. And while in recent months he's done solid work on exposing the shitty practices of the Australian half of our supermarket duopoly, at the same time he's been doing his best to ruin relations between Labour and one of the parties it will be relying on to be in government. And once he's gone, I suspect he'll be remembered for only two things: being the Minister of pornography, and having his Labour leadership campaign funded by the National Party. Again, good riddance, and don't let the door hit your arse on the way out. If you don't think you can win in September, if you don't want to win in September, then the Labour Party is vastly better off without you.

As for McCully: if he'd offered Jones a briefcase full of cash to resign, we'd call it what it is: Corruption and bribery of member of Parliament. I don't see how creating him a special job is any different.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014



Australia's lawless gulag

When a reugee was murdered at its Manus Island gulag in February, the Australian government tried to blame the victims and pretend that its prisoners were responsible for the violence. Since then, we've learned that the opposite was the case, and that Australia's paid G4S goons were responsible. And now we have the video footage to prove it:

Papua New Guinean nationals employed as security guards on Manus Island attacked asylum seekers at the detention centre more than 24 hours before Iranian Reza Barati died in a night of shocking violence, new footage shows.

The footage, obtained by Fairfax Media, shows the security guards attacking a group of asylum seekers who had absconded from the centre after being told they had no prospect of being settled outside PNG if their claims for refugee status were eventually recognised.

There are also images that show no action was taken to rope off the scene of Mr Barati's killing before evidence was either compromised or completely cleared away, including the rock that witnesses say made sure he was dead.


There's more there, and it contradicts in every way what the Australian government has said. Australia's guards rioted and assaulted the refugees. Australia's guards armed themselves with batons, machetes and guns, and shot to kill, not to warn. Australia's guards murdered Reza Barati. And they need to be held accountable for it.

John Key hates transparency

Over the weekend, the Greens proposed greater Ministerial transparency, with quarterly public declarations of meetings, overseas travel, gifts and hospitality. Its a great idea, which would help restore confidence in our system of government. So naturally, John Key opposes it:

Prime Minister John Key has dismissed the Greens' call for full disclosure of ministerial meetings, saying the information could already be gained through official channels.

[...]

"But nothing in the register that Metiria Turei is talking about would change anything.

"We already have the Official Information Act, you already have huge capacity through [the register of] pecuniary interests for people to register and for people to have access to information."


But the Register of Pecuniary Interests is released once a year, and doesn't capture meetings or gifts given. As for the OIA, this covers only information held in a Ministerial role; Ministers routinely refuse to release information on meetings with lobbyists and donors, pulling the same "its a private meeting" scam that Judith Collins has used over Oravida. In other words, Key's proposed "solutions" aren't, and he knows it.

Judith Collins is this very minute given us a public example of how there's no such thing as a "private" meeting by a public official. We need to take that lesson to heart, put our Ministers' corrupt and cozy relationships with lobbyists, donors and cronies under the microscope, and clean up our political system. Otherwise we'll keep seeing Ministers doing favours for people, abusing public office for private gain. And that is something we simply should not accept.

The GCSB has a credibility problem

Last month, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave evidence to the European Parliament, in which he revealed that the NSA were "advising" their "partners" on how to interpret mass-surveillance-enabling "loopholes" into their spy-laws. New Zealand was specifically mentioned as having received such advice:

In recent public memory, we have seen these FAD "legal guidance" operations occur in both Sweden and the Netherlands, and also faraway New Zealand.

This naturally raised the question of exactly what GCSB had received "guidance" on, and whether the NSA had written John Key's spy bill (which contains some very careful loopholes which enable mass-spying). So I did what I always do, and sent in an OIA request asking whether they had received advice from any foreign agency on the interpretation of their governing Act. Last week, I received the response [DocumentCloud]: a categorical denial:
The GCSB has not received any guidance or advice on how to interpret the GCSB Act or on any amendments to the GCSB Act from any foreign agency or government. As such I decline to provide the information requested under the provisions of section 18(e) of the Official Information Act (the Act), on the grounds that the information requested does not exist.

That's pretty clear, and there doesn't seem to be any wiggle-room to turn it into a non-denial "denial". At the same time, the GCSB has a credibility problem here, because its answer clearly contradicts Snowden's evidence. So, who do we believe? A secretive government agency with every reason to lie, or a whistleblower with none? That's a no-brainer - and if Snowden produces a single document backing up his claim, then Ian Fletcher's head should be on a spike.

New Fisk

Another ‘sham’ election is over, so what now for Algeria?
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

Shane Jones confirms everyone's suspicions

So, it turns out that Shane Jones' campaign for the Labour leadership was funded by a Nat. Which is hardly surprising - the loudest voices talking up Jones' ability and "leadership potential" have always been on the right. But actually taking money from them is hardly going to endear him to the rest of his party.

More interestingly, though, is that Jones was also funded by the oil industry:

Mr Jones revealed to the Herald that Sir Wira gave $1000 and NZ Oil and Gas board member Rodger Finlay also donated money to help the MP to pay for his campaign to win the Labour leadership last September.

And since then he's stepped up his touting for mining and his attacks on those who oppose it. Of course Jones claims its nothing dodgy, and that the money follows his support for mining rather than the other way round - but from the outside, it just looks like another example of corrupt political behaviour. Like Peter Dunne, if Jones hasn't been bought and paid-for, then he's doing a great impression of it. And that's not the sort of image a party should want one of its senior members to have in election year.

Thursday, April 17, 2014



National: American lickspittles

Yesterday we learned that America had murdered a New Zealand citizen in a drone strike in Yemen. Today, the government was closely quizzed about its views on this in Parliament. Steven Joyce (standing in for the PM) was very clear: he "neither supported nor condemned" the murder. Meanwhile, his backbenchers tittered and joked over the murder of a New Zealand citizen.

But Joyce went further: the government would not ask its "ally" about the reasons for or circumstances of the murder, and it was inappropriate to ask them to express an opinion on it. Whether the murder was ethical was "a matter for those countries which do carry out drone strikes... New Zealand is not one of them" [rush transcript; apologies for any errors].

This is absolutely appalling. The government has made it clear that our "allies" can murder us overseas, and it will not even make basic inquiries about it. In other words, they're perfectly OK with any of us being murdered, anywhere, by the US, on the basis of our political views.

They're nothing but American lickspittles. Throw them out and get a government which will protect the rights and lives of new Zealanders, rather than collaborate in their murder.

A $130 million gift to the rich

When the government announced that it was selling off Genesis Energy, it deliberately underpriced it, with a discounted price, generous bonus scheme, and huge dividend. And today that has had the expected result, with Genesis shares leaping almost 20% on their debut, an increase in value of $130 million. Rather than being retained by the government, that $130 million has gone straight into the pockets of the donors and cronies who bought into Genesis.

This is nothing but a corrupt, government-enabled theft by the rich of public wealth. It must be reversed, and the thieves and those who enabled them punished.

Meanwhile, in the next few months, we'll no doubt see some of that $130 million make its way back to the party which handed it out, in the form of political donations (and possibly with honours corruptly given in exchange). Its a nasty little circle which enables further corruption, and we need to stamp it out too, with public funding to drive corrupt wealth out of our political system.

New Fisk

A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

Against secret "justice" in NZ

Last year, in response to a series of court cases challenging its control orders or claiming compensation for human rights abuses by its intelligence services, the UK passed the Justice and Security Act 2013. The Act introduces a "Closed Material Procedure" into civil cases in the UK government, allowing the government to shield "sensitive" information from disclosure. Effectively, it means that if you sue the government for torturing you, it gets to hide all the evidence from you. Instead of your day in court, you get one-sided, secret "justice".

Now the Law Commission is considering introducing such a system in New Zealand:

The Law Commission has released A New Crown Civil Proceedings Act for New Zealand, its Issues Paper on reforming the Crown Proceedings Act 1950. The Issues Paper proposes a new statute to replace the Crown Proceedings Act 1950.

[...]

An important topic covered in the Issues Paper is the Crown’s ability to refuse to disclose certain information during litigation because of reasons of national security. The Commission is raising a number of options, including the possibility of court hearings in which material might be relied on by the Crown but not fully disclosed to the other side.

Sir Grant says “The Commission seeks views as to the appropriate way to balance the needs of justice that require all relevant material be revealed on the one hand, and on the other the legitimate national security concern that some things simply cannot be revealed.”


The issues paper is here; chapter 7 is the relevant section. While they present five options, ranging from repeal of s27 Crown Proceedings Act (which would give a consistent, though imperfect, regime under the Evidence Act), to full-on UK-style secret "justice", its clear that they're pushing for a solution more towards the latter end. At minimum they seem to favour an absolute, unreviewable ability for the crown to withhold documents on national security, defence, and international relations grounds - a privilege which overseas has been used to cover up government wrongdoing and deny justice to victims of torture.

We need to protect our courts from this toxic foreign invasion of secrecy, and prevent America's "war on terror" from fundamentally corrupting our justice system. Submissions on the issues paper are due by 1 August 2014; you can submit by email here.

Submission

Below is my draft submission on the Environmental Reporting Bill. I'm primarily interested in the freedom of information issues; I expect other groups to be focused on the reporting itself.

  1. I support the aims of the Environmental Reporting Bill of giving us regular, independent reporting on the state of our environment. Such reporting is vital as a mechanism to assess the success of government policy, as well as to identifying potential environmental problems.

  2. I have serious misgivings about some sections of the bill, particularly those relating to the selection of topics and the disclosure of information. I therefore ask that the bill be amended to address those concerns.
  3. I do not wish to appear before the Committee.

    Selection of topics

  4. Section 18 of the Bill provides for the Minister to specify the topics to be covered within synthesis and domain reports by Order in Council. Before prescribing such topics, the Minister must consult the Government Statistician and the Commissioner. This is a useful safeguard; however consultation is not the same as listening, and it still permits a perception that topics may be selected (or not selected) on political grounds. For example, a Minister under pressure from the dairy industry could select topics in such a way as to gloss over problems such as "dirty dairying". This perception undermines the purposes of the bill.

  5. There are two obvious solutions. One is to have the topics specified in law, for example as a schedule to the Bill. A second would be to allow the Government Statistician and the Commissioner to jointly select topics. Either would remove the perception of political interference (or, in the case of a schedule, require that it be exercised so publicly as to dissuade politicians from doing so). On balance, I would prefer specification in law.

    Disclosure of information

  6. Section 16 of the Bill allows the Secretary of MfE and the Government Statistician to veto the release of "information or analysis that will be, or has been, used in an environmental report". The veto power "applies despite any other enactment". From the departmental disclosure statement and the policy background to the Bill, the purpose of the veto power is to ensure that reporting is independent of the government of the day. However, the power goes well beyond that, restricting the right of access to information not just of government Ministers, but of the general public, and not just before a report is published, but also after.

  7. The Official Information Act 1982 is "a constitutional statute of major importance".1 It is a fundamental means of ensuring the public accountability of Ministers and public sector agencies. Overriding it requires extremely strong justification. Such justification does not appear to exist.

  8. In assessing the justification for overriding the OIA, the comparable scheme for overriding the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 is helpful. In order to be justified, a limitation must serve an important public purpose, be rationally connected to that purpose, be proportionate to that purpose, and the least drastic means of achieving it.2

  9. Ensuring the independence of environmental reporting is an important public purpose. However, restricting public access to information about such reports runs contrary to that purpose. Rather than being a threat to independence, transparency is a means of protecting it. The best way to ensure that Ministers do not interfere in the production of an independent report is for their communications to be subject to the OIA and to be released on request. The best way to ensure that the conclusions of a report are seen to be robust and independent is to pro-actively release all drafts and working material at the same time as the report, so the public can see that that is the case.

  10. The veto power is also disproportionate. Quite apart from questions of scope or the fact it applies both before and after publication, the OIA already contains a legislative scheme allowing information to be withheld where release would cause identifiable harm and would not be outweighed by the public interest. That scheme was developed by a Royal Commission, has been the subject of thirty years of jurisprudence and interpretation by the Ombudsman, is well understood and has been repeatedly reviewed. In the most recent review, the Law Commission did not identify any need for new withholding grounds. To the extent that "information or analysis that will be, or has been, used in an environmental report" can already be withheld under the Act, the new veto power is unnecessary. To the extent that it cannot, it is unjustified.

  11. As noted above, the veto power "applies despite any other enactment". This does not just override the OIA, but also the information-gathering powers of Officers of Parliament contained in the Public Audit Act 2001, Environment Act 1986, and Ombudsmen Act 1975, the commission of inquiry powers of the Waitangi Tribunal exercised under the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975, the statutory powers of the judiciary, the privileges of Parliament, and indeed the protections of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.3 The idea that such a broad-reaching power which trumps all other legislation (including fundamental constitutional Acts) is a least drastic means is simply absurd.

  12. I recommend that section 16 be removed from the Bill. The existing structure of the OIA is perfectly capable of coping with environmental reporting information, and ensuring that it is covered would lend credibility to the independence of reporting.

  13. Concerns about Ministerial interference are already credibly covered by section 14 of the Bill, requiring the Secretary of MfE and the Government Statistician to act independently in preparing reports.
1 Philip Joseph, Constitutional and Administrative Law in New Zealand (2nd ed), Brookers (2001), p. 148.
2 Moonen v Film and Literature Board of Review (No 2) [2002] 2 NZLR 754 (CA)
3 The full submission suggests several possible scenarios where such conflicts could emerge.