Interesting piece by the tenacious Felix Marwick at Newstalk ZB:
No sunlight, no disinfectant. Political machinations remain behind the veil
A little over three years ago the then Prime Minister, John Key, made an off the cuff comment at one of his weekly post-cabinet press conferences that he did have contact with bloggers. It was an interesting statement at the time as it was quite clear Government messages were being channelled directly to websites that were aligned with, and sympathetic to, the National Government’s agenda. I was curious to see what these contacts entailed so lodged a series of Official Information Act requests with the Prime Minister and several Cabinet Ministers to see exactly what was being passed on, and to whom.
Read on in the original piece for the sorry details. Conclusions…
Well a lot of the material disclosed in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics probably went through the exact same channels that I tried to use the OIA on. Hager came in for intense criticism, mainly from those who were front and centre in his book over their political machinations, for his ethics and the way he acquired his information. What my use of the OIA shows is that leaks and surreptitious acquisition of evidence is the only way you are going to get political material of this nature that is in the public interest. The Official Information Act won’t overcome political self interest as long as politicians are allowed to determine what hat they’re wearing when they’re using public information for their own political ends. Being a Minister and a Prime Minister is a full time job. Politicians shouldn’t get to finagle the system just so as to protect their political manoeuvring. Governments wield immense power so there need to be adequate checks and balances on those that exercise that power.
The other thing you can deduce from a three year battle over access to correspondence is that the most senior politician in the land probably had something to hide.