Tag Archives: Institutions

New Zealand: Salmond on abuse of democratic freedoms

Dame Anne Salmond [stuff.co.nz] 1 ### stuff.co.nz Last updated 10:57 13/01/2015 — Dominion Post
Erosion of democratic rights
By Dame Anne Salmond
OPINION In the wake of the shooting of cartoonists and journalists in Paris, political leaders in New Zealand have expressed shock and horror, and their support for those who uphold freedom of expression in other countries.
What about freedom of speech and thought at home, however?
Over the past decade or so, politicians seeking to uphold their own power have abused democratic freedoms in New Zealand. Journalists including Jon Stephenson (for reporting on New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan), Andrea Vance (over a suspected leak of a report about the GCSB spy agency), and Nicky Hager (for exposing scurrilous relationships between senior politicians and muck-raking bloggers) have been intimidated and attacked.
While our leaders do not shoot people, they work with others to try to ruin the lives and careers of those who disagree with them. The means may be different, but the intent is the same. One way or another, their critics (however valid their points of view might be) must be silenced.

It is not just outspoken individuals who are at risk. Institutions that are the bulwarks of our democracy have been undermined. Since the 1980s, the civil service, which is supposed to offer informed, impartial advice to politicians, has been brought under ministerial control, and instead of serving civil society now largely serves its political masters.

The freedom of the press has been compromised, for instance in the wake of the teapot tape scandal, when newspaper offices were raided in an effort to prevent the publication of those recordings, or when improper pressure is brought to bear on journalists and media outlets for partisan political purposes.
While H L Mencken defined good journalism as “afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted”, much journalism in New Zealand now does the opposite. Read more

█ Dame Anne Salmond is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Auckland. She was the 2013 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

Anthony Robins at The Standard says:
“Salmond goes on to cover attacks on “The independence of the judiciary and the rule of law”, “Independent statutory bodies”, “Freedom of thought and inquiry in universities and Crown Research Institutes” and “Radical extensions of the powers of the SIS and the GCSB” […] It’s an excellent article, and a depressing summary of the state of NZ.” Link

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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RNZ: Cost of economic crime

My conclusion (which should sound vaguely familiar) – our priorities as a country are completely screwed. If we put as much energy into cracking down on economic crime as we did chasing welfare cheats – we could afford a proper welfare system…. –Anthony Robins, The Standard 21.10.14

### radionz.co.nz Updated at 1:17 pm on 19 October 2014
Sunday Morning – sunday@radionz.co.nz
Economic crime costs up to $9.4bn
By Jeremy Rose
Economic crime is costing New Zealand up to $9.4 billion a year according to a draft Serious Fraud Office (SFO) report obtained by Radio New Zealand.

Listen to a full discussion of the document on Sunday Morning (48:55) {Citifleet gets a sound bite}

At the beginning of last year the then Minister for the SFO, Anne Tolley, was reported as saying that a number of Government ministries had been working for two years on a report quantifying the cost of economic crime and it would be presented to Cabinet in the near future.

But the report did not make it to Cabinet and was not released.

Read the SFO draft report obtained by Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand obtained a draft copy of the SFO’s report under the Official Information Act. The methodologies that would have made it possible to calculate the total costs were redacted.
However, Radio New Zealand has also obtained a copy of the report with the estimated costs of the various types of economic crime included – which put the total cost of economic crime at between $6.1 and $9.4 billion.
The report noted that was more than twice the combined annual budgets of police, the Department of Corrections, and the courts; more than the total net profit of New Zealand’s top 200 companies and top 30 financial institutions; or the equivalent of $2000 for every adult living in New Zealand.
Read more

SFO Economic Crime [RNZ graphic][Graphic: Radio New Zealand – some estimates in the report]

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ODT 20.10.14 (page 8)

ODT 20.10.14 Letter to the editor Eaton p8

● ODT 16.10.14 Feeley speaks up for SFO
● ODT 18.10.14 SCF witness omission puzzles

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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‘The Public’s Right to Know’ – OIA Review

Official Information Act (OIA)
“At present, the Ombudsman was in charge of investigating complaints under the Act, but did not have any wider responsibilities. […] An information commissioner could be created, who would perform a similar role to the Privacy Commissioner or Human Rights Commissioner.”

### ODT Online Thu, 26 Jul 2012
Review recommends broader scope for OIA
Source: NZ Herald
The Law Commission has recommended that all publicly funded agencies should be subject to official information requests, including courts, universities and boards of trustees. The commission has made more than 100 recommendations in “The Public’s Right to Know”, a review of the Official Information Act (OIA) which was tabled at Parliament yesterday. Lead commissioner for the report Prof John Burrows said main principles of the 30-year-old Act were sound, but it needed to be upgraded for the digital age.

“We think there’s a case now for saying if a body is receiving public funding and is performing a public function it should be accountable under the OIA.”

The review also recommended re-drafting some of the grounds for withholding information – such as “good government” and “commercial sensitivity” – which were unclear.

The Justice Ministry and Department of Internal Affairs would consider the recommendations, and were expected to act on them within six months.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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