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For your eyes only

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, February 3rd, 2012 - 16 comments
Categories: accountability, democracy under attack - Tags:

The Briefings to Incoming Ministers, which government departments produce after each election, give the public (via the media) an insight into on coming challenges in portfolios, elaborate on how election promises will be converted into real policies, and – most importantly – reveal things the government is planning that weren’t election policies. So, it’s disturbing that the Nats are censoring them.

It was only a bit over three years ago that a Nice Man called Mr Key promised you and me that he would lead a more transparent and accountable government.

Since then, we’ve seen numerous attacks on democracy and accountability: The Auckland Supercity, Bennett bashing the solo mums who dared criticise her policies (they’re still waiting for that apology, Paula), abuse of Urgency to a completely unparalleled degree, attacks on journalists culminating in the tea tapes saga, dictatorship in Canterbury (with Christchurch about to head the same way), CERA and CERA 2, using NZ on Air as a backdoor to close down troublesome TV programmes, Key running from the Debating Chamber to avoid questions… to name but a few

So, add censoring BIMs to the list.

Fully two-thirds of the Foreign Affairs BIM is blanked out. National won’t even let us know what the minister’s priorities in the portfolio are (although, this being Murray McCully, we can safely assume they are chasing skirt, employing blondes half his age, and racking up big alcohol bills on the taxpayers’ card). You don’t have the right to know even the broad outlines of your country’s foreign policy according to National.

Amy Adams has censored the sections of the ICT BIM on upcoming decisions and actions needed within six months.

The Ministry of Transport BIM has half the section on Ports blacked out – one can only guess at what clues the missing section gives on National’s plan of action over Ports of Auckland.

The same pattern is repeated throughout the BIMs. Huge swathes of critical information – which has been released in previous BIMs – has been censored by the government.

Is this the open and transparent government that we expect and deserve in the 21st century?

16 comments on “For your eyes only”

  1. shorts 1

    this concerns me but as we have (the public) access to more information these days than in the past before the knee jerks too much how does this compare with previous administrations?

    I can accept the need that some information may need to be hidden from the public but am very concerned that this seems to be the default, not in very isolated and justified cases

    to answer the question – no this isn’t the openness and transparency I expect from our govt but am not surprised by this particular ones desire to hide all but the mundane from our view

    • Eddie 1.1

      many earlier BIMS are online – just google an agency name and ‘briefing to incoming minister’ and an election year. You’ll see they have nowhere like the level of censorship as National has chosen to impose.

  2. Blue 2

    National has been totally unaccountable since they took office.

    Why? Because no one calls them to account. They will give the public and the media the least amount of information they can get away with, and because no one pulls them up on it, they will continue.

    Let’s face it, none of our MSM organisations would raise a peep if National had decided not to release the BIMs at all.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Don’t worry I am sure the NZ Herald will shortly be up in arms about these “Attacks on Democracy”.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    the MFAT wallpaper is here

    At first theres a few paragraphs missing but then from page 6 to page 15 is totally blank
    along with another half dozen pages to the rear of the 26 page document.

    For good measure the 2008 document seems to disappeared from their website.

    A quick look at the Education Ministry briefing gives a few more clues to what they ‘are thinking’

    Improving value from the ECE system means ensuring available funding is directed where it will make
    most difference, to supporting sustained participation of Māori, Pasifika, and children from
    disadvantaged backgrounds in high quality ECE settings.
    Withheld under 9(2)(f)(iv) of the Official Information Act 1982
    A simpler funding system, which combines the existing complex and disparate systems from both the
    Ministries of Education and Social Development, will reduce compliance burdens on providers and
    lead to more efficient realisation of Government goals.
    A new funding system will need to be designed, trialled, and implemented carefully to ensure it has the
    required impact.
    Withheld under 9(2)(f)(iv) of the Official Information Act 1982

  5. RedLogix 5

    And of course the other thing missing is the Herald doing full frontal headlines ….”ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY”

  6. It is interesting the delay in releasing these reports.  The briefings would have been ready at the end of November.  Previous releases have occurred a lot quicker.
    I guess this time there was a lot more polishing that had to be done.

  7. George D 7

    Someone should take them to the Ombudsman and appeal these. This is disgraceful and almost entirely unprecedented.

    Also, skirt-chasing and blondes? I came here to be outraged, and instead found myself a little disgusted with the puerile comments. I’d love to be able to share this, but I don’t feel I’m able, because the cheap partisan attacks destroy the gravity of the matter at hand. This is far worse than a minister screwing someone or drinking booze. This is about policy, godamnit! I want stuff I can send to people who aren’t already invested in hating the government.

    [lprent: skirt-chasing and blondes?. Ah where? They aren’t on the comments for this post. Unless they have already been moderated out, but we’d usually make it quite public.

    What are you reading? ]

    • McFlock 7.1

      lprent: in the article paragraph beginning “Fully two-thirds of the Foreign Affairs BIM is blanked out” is the skirt/blonde reference George D mentions.

    • George D 7.2

      National won’t even let us know what the minister’s priorities in the portfolio are (although, this being Murray McCully, we can safely assume they are chasing skirt, employing blondes half his age, and racking up big alcohol bills on the taxpayers’ card).

      Now a minor thing, perhaps. But it does mean that instead of being able to share this with the world as hard hitting criticism, it looks like the work of someone who’d find any reason to attack the government. That’s considerably less useful to me.

      Anyway, as you were.

      • Blighty 7.2.1

        it’s a well-known fact that McCully stacks his office with young blondes. If you don’t think it’s an indictment on a minister that he’s using taxpayer money to surround himself with people he finds sexually appealing, that’s your business.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    When the administrators won’t tell their employers what they’re doing then it’s time to get rid of those administrators as they’ve stepped across the line into outright dictators.

  9. newsense 9

    Errr…Where’s the sorry Clare Curran, nice bit of opposition MP work…

    Did it make the papers though or just here and there?

    aahhhh NRT and others have it too- just that she had it up yesterday…

  10. mik e 10

    Now Fairfax will be on their side as well.The MSM needs a real clean up its been completely taken over by the Right.Not even a whimper left now.

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