Red Alert

Transparency and accountability

Posted by on May 11th, 2009

Fronting up and answering parliamentary questions and Official Information Act requests is a basic ministerial function. Fundamentally it is about accountability. On that score the Minister of Internal Affairs, Dr Richard Worth, has failed miserably. Since December I have been trying to get information out of Dr Worth about what he has been up to whilst receiving his $240k a year ministerial salary. I’ve used written parliamentary questions and Official Information Act requests and he has stonewalled repeatedly. He won’t even answer questions as basic as one asking what reports he has received from his Department.

One would have thought given his recent troubles Dr Worth would be going to some lengths to prove that he had nothing else to hide. Could it be that he is embarrassed by his total lack of action since becoming a Minister? Does he think that he should be exempt from basic accountability requirements? Or does he have something to hide?

I’m pleased that John Key made a commitment on Breakfast TV this morning to investigate Dr Worth’s refusal to answer. I look forward to Dr Worth’s forthcoming conversion to the principles of openness and transparency following Mr Key’s intervention. If he isn’t willing to front up, he shouldn’t be a Minister.

Selection of Dr Richard Worth’s answers (PDF – 60K)


8 Responses to “Transparency and accountability”

  1. Nick says:

    Keep up the good work Chris. The public needs to hear more about Worth’s evasiveness.

  2. Jum says:

    John Key’s performance this morning on Breakfast with forelock tugging Henry was very poor. Just waffle as he pretended he would talk to Worth about it. Guess the lack of openness and transparency comes from the top in the National party.

  3. Mike Mckee says:

    I hold no truck for Richard Worth in fact the non-disclosure issues are very worrying.

    I guess he and John Key may have taken their queue from the previous transparent administration don’t you?

  4. Mike Mckee says:

    I’ve just read Kwiwblog – see I read red Alert first!

    Chris in another era you’d get your bottom smacked, a question is one thing asking the same one several different times and by the hundreds.
    Mate you need help.

    The problem with your errant behaviour is that rightly, you will be marked as a prat.

    So they initially ignore your requests as a given.
    which is not good as you may well have a legitimate question that is for our good.

    So your behaviour is hindering your effectiveness as an opposition.
    That means YOU are wasting my money as I pay your wages.
    Come on only send necessary questions not fakes.
    Personally if you’d sent me all that claptrap I’d just throw everything from you in the bin.

  5. Mike – You’ll find that the number of parliamentary questions I have asked is not out of the ordinary. In the last parliament Allan Peachey asked 5,962 written questions. Other National MPs with high totals included Simon Power (3,349) Tony Ryall (2,977) and Judith Collins (2,437). That’s just a random sample, I’m sure there are others who have asked similar numbers.

    In terms of repetition, the way the question system works if you ask one question but ask each Minister to respond to it, then in effect you are asking 50-odd questions (because questions are based on portfolio, not individual minister). I think the questions I have asked are all legitimate, but if you have any that you think aren’t, by all means say so.

  6. Mike Mckee says:

    yeah right I’ve got the time to read all your questions.

    If you need a question in a minister responsibility why ask all the other ministers the same question?

  7. Some questions cut across all ministers, for example, I asked a couple of questions regarding the employment of purchase advisors. My questions basically asked whether the Minister had received advice on engaging a purchase advisor, whether they had engaged a purchase advisor, and if they had, what the nature of the role was.

    Because there were 4 separate questions to each minister, they totalled up to a couple of hundred individual questions. I think given the high level of public interest in the findings, it is fair to argue that those questions were a good use of parliamentary time.

    Sure, some questions will turn up a nil result, that’s the nature of the process. That doesn’t mean the questions shouldn’t be asked in the first place.

  8. Disturbed says:

    Where is the transparancy regards drug use within the police force. Do they deny it exisit? If not then they are admiting it. If they say it does not exist then they will have no problem in introducing a random or ‘part of application process’ a drug test. This would kick off a good strong debate on civil matters where the ‘law enforcers’ refuse to be policed for the very ‘crime’ they are so-called policing.
    This would be a good thing to put to the test in question time.