I’ve been looking forward to taking on Amy Adams, the new Minister of ICT. I’ve been impressed by her no- nonsense approach to things and her obvious intellect.
I was hoping for an opponent on the other side of the House who would grasp that technology had the capacity to transform our economy. I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope that she’d take seriously the importance of the social objectives of providing more access to technology, other than to pay lipservice, which is pretty much what Steven Joyce did.
But I was pretty appalled today to receive the incoming briefing document from the Ministry of Economic Development to the new Minsiter, which sets out all the major policy issues that lie ahead and provides a list of the pending decisions and actions over the next six months.
Great tracts of the former (policy issues) were removed from the document under the Official Information Act.
When it came to the decision and actions required over the next six months, there was a gaping two page hole in the document.
VOTE COMMUNICATIONS: BRIEFING FOR THE INCOMING MINISTER 2011
MED1245438 Page 22 of 34
PENDING DECISIONS OR ACTIONS REQUIRED IN THE NEXT SIX MONTHS
[Withheld under sections 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(g)(i) of the Official Information Act 1982]
blank blank blank………
I’ve talked to a few industry people about this today. It’s unprecedented I think. Highly unusual and you’ve got to ask what on earth is so secretive about Minister Adams’ workplan and pending decisions that they all need to be kept secret?
Remember this is taxpayers money that funds Vote Communications. The signs are not good that the taxpayers will get the opportunity to scrutinise how their needs are best being met.
The intro by MED to the briefing reveals that the three big issues are these:
- The roll-out of the Ultra Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband initiatives
- The free-up of 4G wireless frequencies
Cross sector ICT initiatives in the public service
What can be so sensitive about these issues that the discussion and debate around decision-making can’t be held in public.
The previous Minister Steven Joyce maintained an arrogant and unresponsive approach to the public, and now it appears that Amy Adams may do the same.
When you make something secret you should have a good reason. The public must be reassured that decisions being made by this Minister are not favouring commercial interests over the public good.
Hopefully an OIA will shine some sunlight on this.