Saturday, April 30, 2005

More on transparency

The Herald this morning has a list of MP's assets and financial interests culled from public records. Unfortunately it's incomplete, containing only data pulled from the Companies Office and Quotable Value (and the latter in areas where they are "likely" to own property), but it's better than nothing. I'm now waiting for MPs to start kicking and screaming about how their privacy has been invaded...

Meanwhile, this morning's Agenda had an interview (link to follow) with Rod Donald on the matter. He's very keen to push something through so that a disclosure regime is in place at the beginning of the next Parliamentary term. He repeatedly stressed that this is about transparency, and allowing the public to judge what is and isn't a conflict of interest. Unfortunately, many of our MPs seem hostile to that idea (just look at their behaviour over the filming of Parliament) - which is precisely why they must be brought into line.


This is another sad example of a recent trend of NZ MPs rejecting greater transparency obligations for themselves - a few months ago they threw out a proposal (also by Rod Donald, I believe) for the House to be covered by the Official Information Act.

Coming from the UK where secrecy has been endemic for so long, and we have looked to NZ's openness (at least after decisions have been taken), this is a bit shocking. The UK's Freedom of Information Act applies to Parliament - with adequate protection for constituents privacy rights and parliamentary privilege - and there is also a recently beefed up disclosure regime.

Quite amazing to see NZ MPs sticking their heads in the sand like this - especially after the Tamihere and Donna Whatshername scandals. One has to wonder what will make them wake up and smell the coffee - especially given the (perceived) low level of respect for MPs already.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/02/2005 06:58:00 PM

I was aware of the refusal to be subject to the OIA, and I'm disgusted by it. Transparency is absolutely vital to the workings of democracy - and that applies to Parliament as much as to the executive. Unfortunately, our MPs seem to have a culture of secrecy, and club together to prevent scrutiny, democratic oversight, and ultimately accountability.

If MPs want Parliament to be respected, they should start by behaving in a manner which isn't so openly contemptuous of the electorate.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 5/02/2005 09:02:00 PM