Tomorrow, my members’ bill, the Local Government (Council Controlled Organisations) Amendment Bill will have its first reading.
The bill is straightforward. It will remove the current exclusion of publicly owned ports from access to information under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act and Official Information Act requests.
Every port in New Zealand is wholly or majority owned by Councils, yet the ratepayers who own them have no right to request information about how they are run.
The issue came up again last week when Auckland Councillors were denied information about the amount of public money spent on consultants, advertising, public relations and legal actions during the Ports of Auckland dispute.
But it’s not only about the Ports of Auckland. It’s about every port in New Zealand. Hundreds of millions of dollars of public money is tied up in local authority owned port companies, but the public can’t even ask questions.
The principle of the Official Information Act is that the public own the information about publicly owned entities and therefore should be able to access that information, subject of course to the legislation.
Who can argue with that principle?
We will see tomorrow.