Monday, March 05, 2012

The Herald on Immigration's secrecy

Last year, I did some digging into Immigration's new policy of refusing to record reasons for their decisions and discovered that it was made for exactly the sort of self-serving reasons you would expect. Now, thanks to a select committee hearing and some publicity from the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, the Herald has gotten in on the action, blasting the decision as "self-serving" and undermining transparency and calling for it to be reversed:

In its calculated nature, it betrays a flippant notion towards concepts of accountability and transparency that should, in fact, be underpinning the service's behaviour.


the rationale for any official decision must be expected to pass outside scrutiny. To suggest otherwise is to eliminate transparency in decision-making and to diminish any prospect of accountability. It also flies in the face of the Public Records Act, which requires that "every public office and local authority must create and maintain full and accurate records of its affairs, in accordance with normal prudent business practice".

Immigration NZ has eschewed such niceties in favour of a wholly self-serving approach. Unfortunately, that is far from unusual.


The new directive is a blatant attempt to torpedo any inquiries by denying documentation. This disdainful attitude to the Ombudsman and, by extension, the public is wholly inappropriate for a service that wields considerable influence. Matters of public interest must be handled transparently, and officials must be able to be held accountable. This directive must be rescinded.

Good to see that the media are standing up for transparency and accountability. And hopefully, this very public pressure will force Immigration to back down and start behaving like a proper government department, rather than the agency of a secretive, unaccountable dictatorship.