Thursday, January 29, 2004


NZPundit thinks that my call to keep a closer eye on our politicians is all about class warfare. Well, no - it's about transparency and open government, and making it more difficult for our elected representatives to be captured by special interests post facto. While all parties have their preferred constituencies - "Labour works for the unions", "ACT is a pawn of big business" etc - I think that we would all benefit by knowing exactly how much sway these interests have, how much access they get, and who is whispering in our politician's ears.

Naturally, this goes for "unions, single-issue NGOs, Maori groups and law firms run by well-connected former Prime Ministers", as well as for businessmen, right-wing think-tanks, and consultancies run by well-connected former finance ministers.

Forcing our MPs to declare any gifts or hospitality received is no different from forcing them to declare political donations, or their financial interests. If there's a potential conflict of interest or improper influence, the public has a right to know.

As for the full-on American solution of registering lobbyists, I'd consider it, but I'm not sure that we need to go that far quite yet... especially when there are perfectly reasonable intermediate steps we can take first.