Friday, March 18, 2011

And while we're at it...

You'd think that when the government sets up a body for a particular purpose - say, soliciting and distributing charitable funds to help the residents of Christchurch - there'd be some basic transparency, and we'd be able to see how that money is spent. But you'd be wrong. Because its legally a separate entity, not part of the government (though, as noted below, utterly dependent on them for administrative support), the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust is not subject to the Official Information Act. Which means that we cannot, for example, find out how much it is spending, who it is going to, or whether it is engaging in discrimination in the distribution of those funds.

As with the inclusion of the advancement of religion in the trust's objects, this is simply wrong. If the government does something, we have a fundamental right to keep an eye on it. It should not be able to escape that obligation and hide its activities by engaging in corporate shell games.