Thursday, January 28, 2010

Privatising access to government information

Last year we were treated to the unseemly sight of a government Minister treating what should be a regular speech to inform interested parties of government policy as a party fundraiser, and charging people to hear what he should be telling them for free. Unfortunately, the rot seems to have spread. Next month, FutureGenNZ will be offering a series of $50 (+ GST) "Webinars" - seminars streamed live over the web - on Understanding the Emissions Trading Scheme. Ostensibly given by FutureGenNZ, a "sustainable business" consultancy, the actual content will be "delivered directly from the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Development". FutureGenNZ will simply be clipping the ticket so that we can hear from our government.

This is simply a privatisation of access to government information. MED and MfE should be doing this themselves, for free, as they have done in the past. We have an expectation in our modern, non-corrupt democracy that government is a free service, available to all regardless of means. And we should fight to keep it this way.