Thursday, September 05, 2013

No transparency under National

One of the fundamental principles of our democracy is transparency. If public money is spent, we have a right to see what it is spent on. This extends to the salaries of top public servants, which are disclosed at least to the nearest $10,000.

But not apparently under National. They're trying to keep the salary of the new Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Andrew McGechan, completely secret:

“After Justice McGechan’s appointment in July, Labour approached the Prime Minister’s office seeking details around his appointment. However, our request was rejected by John Key’s chief of staff Wayne Eagleson on the basis of Justice McGechan’s right to privacy.

“It is fundamentally undemocratic to withhold the pay rate received by the Inspector-General. His salary is paid out of taxpayer money. The considerable public interest outweighs the need to protect Justice McGechan’s privacy in this instance,” Trevor Mallard says.

As Labour points out in that press release, there's an irony here, in that McGechan's salary in his previous job - a judge - was disclosed down to the last dollar. And there's the practice of routinely disclosing the salaries of other appointments. National's departure from the usual practice here naturally invites the question: what are they trying to hide?