Sunday, August 24, 2003

"Helping Out"

More evidence that we have a National government in disguise: the government is going to help out landlords track down former tenants by allowing WINZ and Housing NZ to pass on personal details (such as addresses).

This is a gross violation of the Privacy Act's principle that information collected for one purpose (say, paying you a benefit, or enabling the collection of taxes) cannot be used for any other purpose. Though I suppose the government simply legislate themselves a loophole to exempt themselves.

Those whose kneejerk response is to be unsympathetic to debtors might want to consider a slippery slope argument: if this debt, then why not others? There's nothing special about debts owed to landlords, and no doubt the banks, credit card companies and everyone else who is owed money will be soon be demanding that the government be even-handed and open WINZ's books to them too. Do we really want the government acting as an agent for (or even supplanting) BayCorp?

I'd rather they kept out of this entirely. Landlords can use the courts and debt-collection agencies like everybody else does.