Friday, August 04, 2017

We have a right to know

Yesterday, Auditor-General Martin Matthews resigned, apparently to avoid a formal motion to remove him from office. But the report which led to his resignation, into his handling of convicted fraudster Joanne Harrison, has been kept secret. And Speaker of the House David Carter says that we have no right to know its contents:

Speaker of the House David Carter says the public don't have the right to know what was in a draft report that led to the resignation of the Auditor-General.


The Officers of Parliament Committee is now refusing to release the $27,000 report.

Mr Carter, who leads the select committee, told Morning Report it was only a draft report, and there was a unanimous cross-party decision not to make it public.

He said he could not say whether a deal was done with Mr Matthews to keep the report secret, saying any such discussion would break Parliament's rules.

This smacks of a stitch-up, a dodgy deal by which the facts are kept secret to preserve Matthews' reputation, allowing him to get another job and do the same thing in future. That's the normal way the private sector handles these sorts of things - getting people to go quietly - but this isn't the private sector. Matthews was a public servant. His mistakes cost public money. And above all, the public needs to be able to have faith that they will never be repeated. The committee's cosy secrecy robs us of that, and prevents the public service from making the necessary changes to ensure that fraud is stamped out. And while that might suit arse-covering politicians who want this all to just go away, it fundamentally betrays the public.

That report needs to be released. If its not released, it needs to be leaked. And if anyone wants to send it, my mailbox is always open.