I read David Farrar’s post on the secrecy with which the New Zealand Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal conducts its hearings, and, like David, was disturbed with what I read in Kathryn Powley’s Herald on Sunday article. The Teachers Council Disciplinary Tribunal doesn’t just claim a power to suppress sensitive information, but rather has rules which automatically suppress all information, instead allowing people to seek official permission before publishing particular information.
David observed that “…the rule should be repealed or amended. If the Council won’t do so, then the enabling legislation should be amended.”
My first thought was to comment in agreement with his general observation: secrecy should not be the default position. My second, to point out that his proposed solution of amending the enabling legislation was excessive, when you could just ask Parliament to vote to disallow, or amend the rule – it’s the rule, not the primary legislation, that is the problem.
For some reason I thought the power of regulations review was about regulations made by Cabinet or core Government departments. But it seems not. So Graeme has taken action:
So instead of just writing a blog post, what follows below is a complaint I sent to Parliament’s Regulations Review Committee yesterday evening.
Any member of Parliament can move a motion to amend, or disallow a regulation, but the Regulations Review Committee is empowered to inquire into subordinate legislation, and a successful complaint to that Committee is a good way to get the rest of Parliament to take notice of your concerns. It operates on a more consensual basis than ordinary select committees, but the individual members of the Committee (currently three National and two Labour), have a special power that other members of Parliament don’t have. If one of them moves a motion of disallowance, the House has to vote on it, or the motion succeeds.
So if one or more members of that committee move to disallow the regulation, then it will be automatically disallowed unless the House schedules time to debate the motion.
It will be very interesting to see what happens. Will the Teachers Council amend their rule before the Regulations Review Committee considers the rule?