Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Minister for Open Government

When Labour appointed Clare Curran as Associate Minister of State Services (Open Government), I was hopeful. Having someone with Ministerial responsibility for open government and transparency might see some progress in those areas. Then Labour started acting worse than National over transparency, trying to pretend that official information isn't and playing the bullshit game over requests for basic information. Naturally, I was curious as to whether the Minister for Open Government would set an appropriate standard, or follow her party like a hack. We found out the answer to that question in Question Time today, and it was not good:

Brett Hudson: How, as the Minister responsible for open government, can she, in all good conscience, address a written question from a member about events in respect of a single day by saying that providing an answer "would take substantial research and collation, which I do not think is in the public interest"?

Hon CLARE CURRAN: I will defend the right of the Opposition to ask written questions, but the Opposition is abusing that right. I happen to agree with Ben Thomas, the former National press secretary, who called it "6000 stupid questions: National's [denial-of-service] attack on the Government".

Just to be clear, this is a specific request for basic information, sent in response to a prior refusal for such information which requested greater specificity. And Clare Curran, the Minister for Open Government, just can't be arsed. I guess you can give the hack a fancy job title, but at the end of the day, she'll always be a hack.

Needless to say, this is not a good way for the government to start, and it suggests that all Curran's fine words about increasing transparency and improving OIA practice are just spin and bullshit. If we want change in this area, we're not getting it from her.