Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pettiness and transparency

Last night saw the second reading of Adrian Rurawhe's Official Information (Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) Amendment Bill. Following the select committee phase and a very convincing report by the Ministry of Justice refuting National's constitutional claims, it seemed like the bill would pass unanimously. But things are never that simple:

NZ First has added a new party policy to its list - voting the opposite to ACT leader David Seymour.

In a weird twist of events on Wednesday night NZ First pulled its initial support for the Official Information Act (Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) Amendment Bill purely because Seymour had decided to vote for it.

Yes, really. And so increased transparency is undermined for the sake of a petty political feud. MP's are once again earning their toxic reputation here.

Meanwhile, while Seymour will be voting for the bill, its clear from his speech last night that he does not accept its underlying premise that the government should be transparent and accountable, and is promising to move wrecking amendments at the committee stage in an effort to apply the OIA to private bodies for which there is no argument for transparency, such as the press gallery or the Leader of the Opposition. Which shows you what he really thinks of the OIA and its principles. Worse, it is clear from their speeches that National's backbenchers don't accept it either. So there's a real chance that they will combine to wreck the bill and prevent it from passing.