NRT: The PCE on the Environmental Reporting Bill

Written By: - Date published: 10:55 am, April 16th, 2014 - 2 comments
Categories: Environment, Parliament, same old national - Tags: , , , ,

no-right-turn-256No Right Turn on the Environmental Reporting Bill that has the watchdogs up in arms. Listening to Amy Adams last night going on about how transparent and open to public scrutiny regulations are made me wonder what bloody universe she lived in  – bizarro world perhaps.

Submissions on the Environmental Reporting Bill are due on Thursday, but the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released theirs,calling for major changes to the bill. The full submission is here, and the key areas of concern are the purpose, the criteria for selecting indicators, and the process for selecting topics (which opens the report to Ministerial manipulation). But they also raise serious concerns about section 16, the secrecy clause, highlighting the fact that it goes far beyond its stated purpose of preventing Ministerial interference and provides for perpetual secrecy of a wide range of information. One aspect they highlight is that this restricts the information-gathering powers of Officers of Parliament, and that this raises constitutional questions. And its worth noting that this isn’t just the PCE, but also the Auditor-General, or the Ombudsman. These are not bodies which should be statutorily blinded in this fashion.

There’s also an interesting footnote (11) about the process of “consultation” on this section:

During the drafting of the Bill, I was consulted on only one clause, namely the description of the role of the Parliamentary Commissioner’s role in Clause 17. In a meeting with the Minister for the Environment on 30 September, she asked if I wished to see drafts of environmental reports. I replied that I would not, (before publication) because any commentary I would make would be on the final publicly released reports. Unfortunately,this seems to have been misinterpreted as my agreement to the disclosure clause which I did not see until shortly before the Bill was introduced. Letter from James Palmer, Deputy Secretary – Sector Strategy, Ministry for the Environment, dated 4 February 2014

[Emphasis added]

That’s a pretty shocking indictment on the way this clause was formulated. What are the odds that they didn’t consult the Ombudsman about it either?

[Meanwhile, I should really write my submission…]

Update: The Ombudsman doesn’t like the secrecy clause either

2 comments on “NRT: The PCE on the Environmental Reporting Bill”

  1. Philj 1

    What ever happened to polluter pays Mr, Mrs or Ms Dairy Farmer.

  2. Ad 2

    Jan is one of our bravest public servants.

    If only we had a Privacy Commissioner with such force and fortitude.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Compliance strengthened for property speculation
    Inland Revenue is to gain greater oversight of land transfer information to ensure those buying and selling properties are complying with tax rules on property speculation. Cabinet has agreed to implement recommendation 99 of the Tax Working Group’s (TWG) final ...
    7 days ago
  • Plan to expand protection for Maui and Hector’s dolphins
    The Government is taking action to expand and strengthen the protection for Māui and Hector’s dolphins with an updated plan to deal with threats to these native marine mammals. Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash ...
    7 days ago
  • Cameras on vessels to ensure sustainable fisheries
    Commercial fishing vessels at greatest risk of encountering the rare Māui dolphin will be required to operate with on-board cameras from 1 November, as the next step to strengthen our fisheries management system. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Fisheries Minister ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Greatest number of new Police in a single year
    A new record for the number of Police officers deployed to the regions in a single year has been created with the graduation today of Recruit Wing 326. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of 78 new constables means ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Ensuring multinationals pay their fair share of tax
    New Zealand is pushing on with efforts to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax, with the release of proposed options for a digital services tax (DST). In February Cabinet agreed to consult the public on the problem ...
    3 weeks ago