Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Not acceptable

Democracy in New Zealand is predicated on the fundamental rule that the executive and its agencies are accountable to Parliament, and through them to the people of New Zealand. We expect public servants and heads of public agencies to cooperate fully with Parliamentary oversight and investigations, and not attempt to mislead them or refuse to provide evidence. But that's exactly what RNZ Chair Richard Griffin is doing over his communications with his Minister Clare Curran:

RNZ chairman Richard Griffin says he has no intention of handing over a voice message left on his mobile phone by Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran.

"No, I have no intention of handing it over, so I'm in breach of the select committee directive," he told the Herald.

He declined to comment further, saying a letter outlining the reasons why had been sent to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee.

This simply is not acceptable. The information the committee has requested is official information, received and held in Griffin's official capacity as RNZ chair. By refusing to provide it, he is effectively saying that he does not work for Parliament, or the people of New Zealand. And if that's his attitude, then terminating his employment and getting his successor to provide the records seems appropriate.

(Meanwhile the voicemail has been the subject of numerous OIA requests as well, and there seems no real reason to refuse them. Its an official document sent and received in an official capacity in which there is no privacy interest. But given Griffin's attitude here, it is likely that he will try and unlawfully refuse them. All this will do is delay release until the Ombudsman has ordered it).