Clifton on ACC Leaks

The Listener

Jane Clifton writes about the ACC leaks and Judith Collins. Clifton wonders why the opprobrium for the leaker when in fact they should be hailed:

Ordinarily, leaks of information from government agencies are held to be a good thing – by pretty much everyone except the Government, which is typically embarrassed by them. In fact, the embarrassment of governments has become a positive incentive for those privy to useful information to tell all early and often. We greet whistle-blowers as heroes, and declare, “Sunlight’s the best disinfectant”, and “What have they got to hide?” – a far cry from the patrician days when Rob Muldoon tutted that folk shouldn’t worry about secret economic and fiscal data because voters “wouldn’t know a deficit if they tripped over one”.

Since 1982’s Official Information Act, we have come to expect that unless there is some drastic menace or injury to be feared from information coming out, then out it must come, if someone asks for it. So, it has been a horrible, almost cultural shock to realise that recent weeks’ leaks from ACC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have not been the usual wholesome exposé of information we need to know but a vicious form of warfare in murky ­sectorial wars.

The ACC is a veritable water feature of leaks, as who knows how many different agendas are at play. But it’s hard to overlook the probability that a lot of the leakage is not wholesomely motivated, but aimed at putting various parties’ pots on covertly. Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff is excavating the murk, and one can only wish her luck.

It has to be said quickly that the leaking of documents in which former ACC Minister Nick Smith made improper intercessions in the case of his friend and National Party colleague Bronwyn Pullar was by any measure a righteous act. That he had to resign over it showed just how badly we deserved to know about those letters.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant..and now we all know about the Pullar/Boag standover schtick. New Zealand politics is all the better for it.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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