Thursday, March 30, 2006

No such communication

People might remember that earlier in the month I received a rather unclear response from the National Party on their position on Guantanamo. It carefully evaded the question of where exactly National stood on Guantanamo, but did at least say this:

Our Foreign Affairs spokesman, Murray McCully, has raised the matter with the Minister of Defence, Hon Phil Goff. Please be assured that we will continue to keep an eye on the situation in the future.

I was interested in knowing exactly what Mr McCully had said to Goff - so I asked, submitting an OIA request explaining the letter and asking for all communications between McCully and Goff on the issue. The response?

There has been no such communication.

Clearly, someone isn't being straight with us - and given the requirements of the OIA, it isn't the Minister.

Update: Upon receiving further information from the National Party, it seems the the Minister's OIA response was more than a little misleading. I have posted a retraction here


Oh Dear me!
Perhaps the litttle man would be wise to let his facial hair grow again so he will have something to hide behind.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/30/2006 10:34:00 PM

Right, this is from a Labour government that breaches the requirements of the OIA as a matter of course then meet the requirements as discribed under the Act.

It took close to a year and an independent report before an OIA request about the number of contracts were awarded without tender to two former private contracters at the Minsitry of Health.

Which now no member of the Labour government will comment on because they don't see it as there responsibility.

Or the Labour MP Shane Jones who ripped up an offical letter from Rodney Hide to Shane Jones as head of a select committee.

So who do you think it's more likely to be lying - on past history I would say it's Labour.

When an OIA request comes in the don't have a good track record of meeting the OIA requirements while in power - it's another erosion of democracy by Labour in this country.

Like all the prima facea cases that Labour MPs have not been prosucted.

Or the $400,000+ breach of the election spending limit and the roting of taxpayers funds to do so.

The corruption and sleaze of Labour is disgusting.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/31/2006 10:03:00 AM

Anon: while I agree that governments frequently evade OIA requests, I think that it is highly unlikely that they would tell an outright lie on one, especially one so unequivocable and easily checked. And particularly where there are far easier and legal methods of evasion available. When I sent that request, I was half expecting a reply saying that any such communications were in the Minister's capacity as an MP, not as a Minister, and so not official information and not subject to the Act. Or one saying that they couldn't be disclosed as this would affect the privacy of the individuals concerned. While some of these would be tenuous excuses, most people would accept them at face value, and wouldn't challenge them - they're a great way of getting people to fuck off and stop asking questions. I was in fact quite surprised to get such a clear and direct answer.

I'm currently waiting on a response from the relevant people in the National Party to this, and I'll happily publish it if it contradicts Goff's answer. But from this end, I think it is more likely that National's "concerns" were just a fob-off, and they never expected they'd be checked on them.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/31/2006 10:32:00 AM

Shouldn't you then have waited until you found out then instead of going off half cocked!

Posted by Anonymous : 3/31/2006 01:28:00 PM

Anon: Nope. I think the case is clear enough, and my requesting a response from National is really just a courtesy and a way of telling them that I am checking up on the shit they are shovelling.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/31/2006 02:02:00 PM

What compared to the daily avoidance by Labour Ministers to address questions in the house put to them by opposition parties.

But you are right the intial statement by National did avoid the question.

I expect National and Labour support the idea of Guantanamo Bay for holding enemy combantants till trials can be held. Neither wants to say as both parties have avoided the question.

Last I heard was the arguments were heading to the U.S Supreme Court to be decided whether than can be tried as such.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/31/2006 02:53:00 PM

Avoiding, evading, and putting a positive spin on answers to questions in the House is part of the game. By long-standing Speaker's Ruling, Ministers must merely "address" the question, and they've certainly never been under any obligation to give the answer the opposition wants or agree with them that their performance is substandard. The only purpose of asking such questions is to force Ministers to evade them, which if they do badly makes them look deceitful, which encourages the public to vote them out and replace them with another bunch of cretins who proceed to do exactly the same thing. And the only purpose of complaining about evasive answers is to drive that process forward.

Ocasionally a Minister can be cornered and forced to admit something in Parliament, but that's unusual (and any Minister who lets that happen deserves to be sacked - this means you, David Benson Pope). In general, its not the answers that matter, but the game. And anyone who claims any differently is either a fool or trying to sell you something.

Which is why if you want real answers, you use the OIA. Cthulhu only knows what people did before it was passed, but I suspect its absence is one of the reasons governments were so long-lived back then.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/31/2006 03:37:00 PM