Herald Hack wants open government

via The Daily Blog

First-term governments have the glow of an idealist about them, no matter their politics. Labour in 1999-2002 was a government that loved to argue ideas. National was the same in 2008-2011.

With that sparkly-eyed optimism change is coming, it’s easy to allow the spirit of the OIA to guide access to public information.

That’s especially the case when most of what you’re releasing is information the previous administration wanted to keep buried.

Third-term governments are different. Some change has come but not all. Some policies have worked but others haven’t. Mistakes have been made and the prospect of not having a fourth term to achieve aims competes against the impact of releasing information which shows why you haven’t got there yet.

OIA information was hard to wrest out of the National-NZ First coalition in 1996-1999. Labour between 2005 and 2008 was worse.

And this last term of National’s administration was worse still.

Yes, more information is released that it was in previous years. But there is evidence of increasing interference and manipulation around what is released, and when, and how.

And that’s the problem. New administrations seem to look to the past when benchmarking openness, and it’s hard to escape the feeling that the previous lows can be starting points for a new government.

New administrations are going to be happy to open up the books to show how the previous government stuff things up.  The first three years they have by and large no history of their own to protect.

As for the OIA act, I’m looking forward to asking some things on a regular basis.  Labour have not traditionally been the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to running things, so it should be a productive hunting ground.


– David “anal” Fisher, NZ Herald Special Needs Division

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