Thursday, April 02, 2015

Closing a loophole in the OIA

A key part of National's confidence and supply agreement with ACT is the appointment of ACT's sole MP David Seymour as Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister of Education and Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister for Regulatory Reform. Its pure patronage, providing Seymour with staff, a fancy title and a $25,000 pay rise in exchange for doing nothing (Seymour has no delegated authorities). But the appointment exposed a hole in the OIA, in that Parliamentary Under Secretaries are not covered, despite theoretically doing important government work.

Now Labour's Adrian Rurawhe is proposing to fix that hole, with a Member's Bill which would bring PUS's under the OIA. The mechanism is simple: insert a definition of "Minister of the Crown" which includes PUSes. If it passes, we'd be able to ask David Seymour exactly what it is that he does in exchange for that $25,000 a year. The question is whether the supposedly pro-transparency, pro-accountability ACT MP will vote for it.

Correction: So, Seymour does in fact have delegated authorities; I missed them because PUSes were at the end of the file. I apologise for the error.