Questions the government will not answer

Written By: - Date published: 1:02 pm, July 3rd, 2010 - 9 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, law, national/act government - Tags: ,

Over at No Right Turn, I/S I filed an OIA request for specific information on the handling of Cabinet conflicts of interest in accordance with Cabinet Manual rules. The request has been declined. In the following post (reprinted) I/S sets out the Questions the government will not answer:

  • On how many occasions in the last year has the Cabinet Secretary been informed, as required by s2.69 of the Cabinet Manual, of a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest around a Cabinet decision? In each case, I would like the name of the Minister, the issue the conflict related to, the reason for the conflict, and the letter, email, aide memoire or other documentation informing the Cabinet secretary.
  • On how many occasions in the last year has the Prime Minister been advised in writing, as required by s2.69 of the Cabinet Manual, of a serious conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest of particular concern or that requires ongoing management? In each case, I would like the name of the Minister, the issue the conflict related to, the reason for the conflict, and the written advice in question.
  • On how many occasions has a Minister declared a conflict of interest under s2.70a of the Cabinet Manual? In each case, I would like the name of the Minister, the issue the conflict related to, the reason for the conflict, and the subsequent action taken.
  • On how many occasions has a Minister not received papers on an issue in order to avoid a conflict of interest, as required by s2.70b of the Cabinet Manual? In each case, I would like the name of the Minister, the issue the conflict related to, the reason for the conflict, and the subsequent action taken.
  • On how many occasions has a Minister transferred a decision to another Minister in order to avoid a conflict of interest, as required by s2.70c of the Cabinet Manual? In each case, I would like the name of the Minister, the issue the conflict related to, the reason for the conflict, and the subsequent action taken.
  • On how many occasions has a Minister transferred a decision to a department in order to avoid a conflict of interest, as required by s2.70d of the Cabinet Manual? In each case, I would like the name of the Minister, the issue the conflict related to, the reason for the conflict, and the subsequent action taken.

Or, in short, is Cabinet obeying its own rules? We can’t trust them unless we know, and we can’t know unless they tell us. It is that simple.

Last month, the government was willing to spend $50,000 to build public trust by releasing Ministerial expense records, so we could see whether they were behaving corruptly in small ways. They owe us at least that much effort so we can see if they’re behaving corruptly on the big stuff too.

9 comments on “Questions the government will not answer”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    So, NACT are willing to spend our money on minor stuff that’s really not worth it but when it comes to being held accountable they’re fully against it? I see.

  2. Santi 2

    It’ll be interesting to know if either Key or Smith will profit from the ETS. How do you explain their change of heart since 2007?

    Both, the trader and the deranged, must be about to line their pockets with their forestry investments.

    • Pascal's bookie 2.1

      The way tories get elected is to lock onto unpopular things they have no intention of doing anything about, and promise tax cuts. That’s it. They can’t promise to cut health, education or welfare, because that means they can’t get elected, so they pick a few issues that sectors of voters care deeply about, and spin a bunch of bs about it.

      eg, AGW, smacking, the sanctity of marriage, pc gone mad etc. They have not, nor have they ever had, any intention of doing anything about these things. They are fishing for suckers basically.

  3. ianmac 3

    The point is that rather important Information should be available by the rules to the public, but is being blocked. Transparency? The National Party were elected on a mandate to deliver Democracy and Transparency. At the moment who would know whether or not there is an advantage through conflicts of interest, but there must be something to hide or why risk an outcry from the electorate?

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      NACT don’t want transparency – transparency means that they will be held to account and they can’t have that as it means that they (and their rich mates) will be removed from the gravy train (the taxpayers money).

  4. What do they use? Quill pens and carrier pigeons? There must be some sort of electronic recording of any such declarations and the information ought to be readily available.

    Maybe IS should cut the request down into smaller chunks. Ask firstly for the number of declarations of conflict, broken down by Minister, then go for detail afterwards.

    • Tigger 4.1

      Conflicts of interest information should be very easily able to be found and collated. This has nothing to do with effort and everything to do with deception.

    • Rex Widerstrom 4.2

      I agree. The first three questions should be a piece of cake to retrieve, as they ask a question of a single repository of information (the PM, the Cabinet Secretary, whoever a Minister must declare a conflict to (presumably one of the first two?)).

      If they show up conflicts, then it would be possible to narrow the second three questions down to those specific instances.

      Perhaps I/S should suggest this to the Ombudsman as a compromise he’d be willing to entertain?

    • Benjamin B. 4.3

      http://twitter.com/norightturnnz/statuses/17469128264 –> He has broken it down into the six questions, or is working on it. Myself, I’ve contacted him and sent one of the questions out.

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