Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Secrecy invites suspicion

John Barrow is a dairy farmer, currently accused of violating his resource consents by taking more water than he is entitled to. John Barrow is also a Horizons Regional Councillor. Horizons are the body prosecuting him for the resource consent violation, so you'd expect them to take every step to ensure a transparent investigation that public can have confidence in, right?

Wrong. They're dealing with the whole thing in secret, behind closed doors.

Regardless of the outcome, this invites suspicion. If Horizons' decision is upheld, farmers will be able to believe it was a stitch-up. If it is not, then the rest of us will see the council corruptly protecting one of its own. Neither is a good outcome. In the justice system, we use open courts precisely to ensure that the public can have confidence in the outcome. Local government owes us the same level of transparency.