Thursday, August 16, 2012

No accountability for information thuggery

back in 2009, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett committed an appalling act of information thuggery by accessing MSD records and releasing information on two solo parents who had dared to criticise government policy. She was rightfully taken to the Privacy Commissioner, which found that she had indeed violated these people's privacy, and her case was referred to the Office of Human Rights Proceedings for prosecution.

Yesterday, Bennett settled the case, apparently in exchange for an apology - which turned out not to be an apology at all, but an exercise in bluster and self-justification by the Minister, combined with threats to further abuse the privacy of those whose information is held in trust by the New Zealand government. When asked today if Bennett would keep her job, Gerry Brownlee (acting on behalf of the Prime Minister) basically said "yes".

This isn't good enough. We have a Minister here who has broken the law and pissed on privacy, in order to silence dissent and for political gain - and then acted in bad faith to get it to go away. In the process, she has undermined trust in government, and public participation in our democracy. She needs to be held accountable for that. Our government should not tolerate the presence of a lying bully like Bennett. If they continue to do so, it will simply be another sign of their moral bankruptcy.