Under-Secretaries and the OIA

Stuff reports:

A bill that would make ACT leader accountable under the Official Information Act has passed its first reading by one vote.

Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe introduced the Official Information (Parliamentary ) Amendment Bill, which had its first reading in the House on Wednesday night.

It was UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne who broke ranks with National and ACT and got the bill over the line – voting in favour of it along with fellow Government support partner, the Maori Party, as well as Labour, NZ First, and Green Party MPs.

Seymour, who is under-secretary for education and responsible for charter schools, as a result of a supply and confidence agreement with National, said it was a “stunt bill”.

He questioned why Labour didn’t change the bill back in 2005 when former Labour MP Dover Samuels was an under-secretary.

“This is a bill entirely designed to target a particular member: strangely enough, me.”

It is.

But that doesn’t make the bill without merit.

Seymour said the bill was redundant because under-secretaries answered to their Ministers, who were accountable under the .

Under-Secretaries may not have formal decision making power, but they are part of the Executive and hold meetings, write correspondence and the like. I think they should be included, even though I agree the motivation is partisan politics.

As it happens I suspect the bill will be somewhat academic by the time it passes (if it does) as I expect Seymour will be a Minister by then.

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