Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This is why we have the OIA

So, it turns out that the government lied about asset sales, claiming that Treasury had advised it that privatised assets would remain in New Zealand hands when it had said nothing of the sort. Instead, it was getting this advice from Ministerial Advisors - party hacks on public salaries - and "informal discussions with market contacts" - John Key's rich mates. Neither of these groups is independent or disinterested, but their "advice" was misrepresented as being the product of the independent, professional, politically neutral, public service in order to lend it greater credibility with the public.

Again, this is another example of MP's earning their reputation. But it also speaks volumes about the weakness of National's privatisation policy. To point out the obvious, if there was a robust and convincing case for asset sales, they would have presented it to the New Zealand public and let it win on the merits. Instead, they chose to lie to us, to try and fool us into backing them. What does that tell us about their case?

The government is now trying to keep its advice secret. It shouldn't. Instead, it should release it all, and let us make up our minds. Anything less is simply undemocratic.