The Rot of Secrecy Now Spreads Through Tax Funded Departments
Government organisations we pay for are becoming increasingly secretive and controlling over information about their activities. The latest example was highlighted in this week’s media reports about our Police demanding that researchers sign onerous contracts before Police will release information. Those contracts give Police the right to control and censor what those researchers write, and Police assume the right to ‘blacklist’ any researcher who doesn’t sign the contract or who breaches it in any way.
Another example was reported on last week after media company NZME ran a 24-hour ‘Flagathon’ on two radio stations also involving the NZ Herald. The Key government’s ‘Flag Consideration Panel’ paid some amount to enable this Flagathon to take place but both the Panel and NZME refused to disclose how much this was, citing ‘commercial sensitivity’ and smugly behaving as if this closed the matter. This is unacceptable. We the NZ taxpayers are paying for the service but are being told we aren’t allowed to know how much! How can a democratic process enable its voters to exercise some control and accountability over government if they are denied basic information about the activities and spending of government agencies? The amount is important. If it seems excessive then the taxpayers will want to know whether (e.g.) someone on the Flag Consideration Panel had a personal or business relationship with someone in NZME.
If a private company contracts to provide product or services to government then it should assume the government’s funders and shareholders, i.e. we the taxpayers, will be told the details. The degree of commercial secrecy possible between two private commercial companies will be significantly reduced when taxpayer’s money is involved. There may be justification for withholding economic details during a tendering process but in the case of the Flagathon it was a done deal and OUR money had already been spent.
It seems to us that prior to the advent of our Femily Court, government organizations were much more accountable to the voters who funded them. The only exceptions were a few agencies related to national security such as military and secret service, this having been so throughout civilization and since the advent of democracy. Other government services were required to disclose information and if there were evidence of overspending or any hint of corruption, the relevant minister could expect to be sacked. But then the Femily Court was invented and was given the right to operate in secret. This seems to have been the thin edge of a wedge and we now see the anti-democratic rot of official secrecy spreading widely across government agencies.
This rot has been promoted by successive governments through an increasing trend of contracting out taxpayer-funded services, thereby placing government at arm’s length from accountability. We are seeing this with private prison operator Serco. When things go seriously wrong now the government department and its minister are protected from accountability, conveniently able to shift this on to the contractor. Corrections and its minister are currently making a big show of blaming Serco, distracting the population from remembering that the department and its minister are ultimately responsible for the welfare of those imprisoned by the state.
One might venture the sacrilegious suggestion that reduced accountability by government agencies has been related to increased feminist participation in society and government. As many here have experienced, women with feminist leanings are notoriously reluctant to have their behaviour scrutinized or to acknowledge / take real responsibility for any wrongdoing they have committed. The Femily Court was designed largely to promote feminist power and wealth, in a level of secrecy that mirrors feminist tactics in general. Such rot is spreading. Time to apply the Borax.