Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Will National support transparency?

New Zealand has one of the best freedom of information regimes in the world, which applies to almost every government agency - including government and local government-owned companies. But there is a gap in that regime: port companies. While every single one of them is wholly- or majority-owned by local government, a clause in the Local Government Act excludes them from the coverage of our official information legislation. This is significant; these companies control hundreds of millions of dollars of public money. But thanks to the exclusion, there is no effective oversight of how that money is spent.

Labour has a bill which will plug that gap, and bring port companies back under the reach of LGOIMA. It will come before the House tomorrow. So, the big question is, will National support it? Do they support transparency over public entities and public money? Or will they try and ensure that those bodies and their handling of public money continues to be shrouded in a veil of secrecy? I guess we'll have an answer tomorrow evening.