Tuesday, October 29, 2019

"The most transparent government ever" again

When Labour was elected, they promised that "this will be the most open, most transparent Government that New Zealand has ever had". The reality:

Newly-released emails reveal Finance Minister Grant Robertson's staff tried to keep secret Treasury's criticism of a government proposal, but were unsuccessful.

Earlier this year, RNZ revealed Treasury had rubbished the so-called "feebate" scheme aimed at promoting electric cars, warning it would have virtually no effect on carbon emissions over two decades.

That advice was obtained by RNZ under the Official Information Act, but fresh correspondence reveals Mr Robertson's office had tried to stop Treasury from releasing it.

And the reason for that is obvious: because it made the Minister look bad. Treasury pushed back against the Minister, but the Minister succeeded in having some of the advice redacted. Its a perfect example of how the "no surprises" policy is a recipe for Ministerial intervention in departmental OIA decisions - and of why we need to ensure that those decisions are made independently. Its also an example of how Labour's rhetoric on transparency fails to match reality. Because a Minister truly committed to transparency simply wouldn't be doing this. The fact that they are doing this, and routinely, tells us both that they are not committed to open government, and that they have something to hide.