National has had a good run convincing Kiwis that it is an “open and transparent” government where “sunlight is the best disinfectant” etc etc.
It’s a tremendous bit of spin. The reality is somewhat different.
For the past 20 months, John Key’s ministers have acted in concert to block access to public information though the Official Information Act and written parliamentary questions. They’ve ducked and dived like sports cheats. It is not just the Opposition that has been thwarted. There is some excellent analysis on No Right Turn about National’s cheating.
Journos too have told me they are getting increasingly frustrated by National’s trickery.
In this context, I’m treating as a win for open government Employment Minister Paula Bennett‘s reaction this week to my media statement of a fortnight ago criticising her for burying bad news.
To recap, she was pinged for sneakily trying to hide bad unemployment data as the economy has slowed. As the jobs news got worse each month, the length of time before she would allow official data to go the Parliamentary Library got longer.
So I am pleased that she has been shamed, at least for now, into ending her dodgy practice. This week, on the same day as issuing her dishonest statement on benefit numbers for August (she said 6000 had come off main benefits – what she didn’t say was the situation had actually worsened again, with more than 8,800 people going on to main benefits over the same month), she quietly released to the Library the full summary of benefit stats for the month. You can see why she’s so shy, it’s pretty grim reading.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but whatever next? National Party ministers dispensing with their haughty contempt of the OIA and WPQs?