MRP’s answers

John Armstrong writes:

What on Earth does the management at think it was doing with its blanket refusal to answer questions posed by the very parliamentary committee to which those running the power generator are supposedly accountable?

Although it might seem relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things, such obstructive behaviour must technically come close to contempt of Parliament. It was certainly an affront, if not an outright insult, to the commerce select committee and thus to Parliament as a whole.

Mighty River Power’s unwillingness to respond to nearly 100 of the 133 written questions submitted by the committee was rationalised on the flimsiest, most ridiculous but ultimately the most dishonest of grounds – a pedantic and childish interpretation of what are standard annual queries.

It is a terrible precedent, which other Crown entities will be tempted to follow.

I think John is over-stating the case here.

I do think Mighty River Power was unwise to antagonize MPs by not answer the questions supplied in writing to them, but it is worth pointing out that the Opposition MP who wrote the questions allowed them to do so by just cutting and pasting them from those used for departments without using the correct terms.

A typical question was:

Did the Department/ Ministry and its associated agencies undertake any restructuring in the last year; if so, what? How much was spent on restructuring costs and what are the estimated savings as a result of restructuring in 2012/ 13?

MRP’s response was

Not applicable to Mighty River Power as Mighty River Power is not a Department, Ministry or associated agency.

And another was:

What new services, functions or outputs did the Department/ Ministry and its associated agencies introduce in the last financial year? Describe these and estimate their cost.

And the response again was:

Not applicable to Mighty River Power as Mighty River Power is not a Department, Ministry or associated agency.

Now I agree MRP could and should have been more forthcoming and could have answered the question on restructuring costs rather than be pedantic over the term used to refer to them.

However on the latter question, the question is not one suitable for an SOE. SOEs do not have outputs. Government Departments do.

The Oppositon MP who asked these questions should have taken half an hour to customise the questions so they are appropriate for an SOE. A diligent MP would have done so.

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