Friday, November 19, 2010

An anomaly

On Wednesday night, the Parliamentary Services Commission rejected a bid to establish an independent review of MPs pay and perks. How do we know? Because Green co-leader Metiria Turei, who sits on the Commission, told us. But there's a catch:

The proceedings of the commission are usually secret, so Mrs Turei could face censure.
You understand that? The problem in our MPs' eyes isn't that they clung grimly to their perks like a dying man to a taxpayer-subsidised first-class return flight to London, but that some naughty person told us that they did.

But this highlights a serious anomaly: the PSC is a statutory body, yet its proceedings happen in secret. Its even less open and accountable than Auckland's notorious anti-democratic boards. Unlike them, it is not subject to the Official Information Act; it doesn't even have to publish minutes of its meetings or decisions, only an annual report.

This isn't just a deliberate oversight - its worse than that. Trawling the legislative history, the PSC used to be scheduled in the Ombudsmen Act (grep for it), meaning it was subject to the OIA. But it was removed in 2000 when the present Parliamentary Service Act was passed. In other words, it used to be transparent and accountable, but MPs decided to take that transparency and accountability away from us.

And they wonder why we think they're dogshit...