Editorials 8 March 2010

The Herald says the Law Commission is on the right track re surveillance:

In a world of fast-paced technological change, it is not surprising that the Law Commission has found significant gaps in the laws designed to protect privacy. At the moment, it may be an offence to record a private conversation, but it is not to secretly film someone or use a device to track them. So there can be few quibbles over the commission’s recommendations to plug these gaps with a new law covering installation and use of surveillance, interception and tracking devices. The danger was that, in traversing other issues relating to privacy, it would suggest measures that promoted this but at the expense of other crucial personal and public interests, notably freedom of information. Happily, the commission has, by and large, resisted that.

I also think the Law Commission report is well done.

The Dominion Post welcomes the merger of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Employers and Manufacturers Association central division:

By merging their back office operations the two business organisations will reduce their costs (by up to 40 per cent for businesses that are members of both organisations) and give business a stronger voice in the region. That is to the benefit of the region as well as individual members.

If the fees drop, I may even join!

And The Press talks CRIs:

When Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) were set up in 1992 it was an acknowledgement of the important contribution that science can make to the economy.

But, 18 years later, the CRI Taskforce report makes it clear that significant reforms are required, in the funding, ownership and governance of the eight institutes. It is essential that the Government now acts on the taskforce’s recommendations, which have the potential to help boost economic growth and thereby lift New Zealand from the bottom of the OECD in terms of research.

The report says that the CRIs should be working for the nation’s benefit, not their own. This might sound like a statement of the obvious but it is not always occurring now, as there is too much emphasis on research which produces results that CRIs can capture in their balance sheets.

A lack of a strategic direction is linked by the taskforce to the multiple lines of accountability for CRIs. They must be accountable to their shareholding ministers through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit in Treasury and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, each of which has its own perspective and requirements.

The taskforce sensibly recommends that there should be just one agency to handle the Government’s investments in CRIs, as well as ownership and policy responsibilities.

The apparent merger of MORST and FORST on Wednesday may help with that.