Agree - this is a great little site;
Run by volunteers - expanding and improving it under a government initiative (but retaining it as the politically neutral/volunteer run operation) would be great.
Yes, I appreciate that is your perspective, Graeme but I think the form/volume of these 'fishing' questions (be they put by whatever person from whatever party in whatever term past or present) are what is unreasonable. Questions put need to be on matters of substance for the inquiry to be genuine. I think it's fair enough that if you ask a vague/obscure question - you get a vague/obscure answer.
If fishing for something specific based on a certain whisper or suspicion - rather than ask, 'what appointments did the Minister have between 8-9 am or 9-10 am on a particular day'... better to ask whether there has been a meeting with a particular individual and/or organisation within the last 1-2 weeks.
I think that's the point the National ministerial responses are making above and those made by the new government Minister's more recently.
Medical appointments are not ministerial.
I agree. But if you require the diaries of Ministers' ministerial appointments to be automatically provided - what you'll get is a daily account of time with gaps and redactions everywhere - and then the gaps/redactions will become the subject of speculation/criticism.
Here's some examples of how National dealt with the same type of questioning from WP in the last term;
Hon Judith Collins (Minister of Police (Includes responsibility for Serious Fraud Office)) replied: As Minister of Police I have a large number of meetings in Wellington and around New Zealand. I do not believe it is a good use of staff time to itemise my meetings or engagements, nor attempt to list the names of every person I met over the course of a month. If the member is interested in a specific issue or organisations then I might be able to provide more detailed information.
Hon Simon Bridges (Associate Minister of Justice) replied: I hold or attend a large number of meetings, visits, events, and speaking engagements – both formal and informal – each month in my capacity as Minister. I am not prepared to ask my staff to bring together this information, including withholding any confidential or private information, in order to answer to such a broad question. If the Member wishes to narrow his question, I am happy to reconsider.
Hon Paula Bennett (Associate Minister of Finance) replied: In September 2016, as part of my ministerial work I have had a number of meetings, however it would take considerable staff time to search diary records and I do not think this is a good use of staff time.
Hon Paula Bennett (Associate Minister of Tourism) replied: As the Member may appreciate, I meet with a large number of groups and individuals during my normal course of business, so this information cannot be gathered without substantial collation or resource. I am not prepared to have my staff spend the time and resources that would be required to answer it.
Hon Bill English (Minister of Finance) replied: As Minister of Finance I have a large number of meetings in Wellington and around New Zealand. I do not believe it is a good use of staff time to itemise my meetings or engagements, nor attempt to list the names of every person I met over the course of a month. If the member is interested in a specific issue or organisations then I might be able to provide more detailed information.
Hon Steven Joyce (Minister for Economic Development) replied: I hold a large number of meetings both formally and informally each month with a wide range of people and discuss a wide range of topics. I do not consider it reasonable use of official’s time to provide the Member with a comprehensive list of all such meetings, nor is it feasible as the information requested is often not specifically captured by my records. If the Member could be more specific about a particular area of interest I would be happy to consider his request.
Hon Maggie Barry (Minister for Seniors) replied: I meet with a range of individuals and groups and I do not believe it is a good use of staff time to itemise my meetings or engagements. If the member is interested in a specific issue or organisation, I may be able to provide more detailed information.
Rt Hon John Key (Prime Minister) replied: As Prime Minister I have a large number of meetings in Wellington and around New Zealand. In September I also attended the East Asia Summit, the Pacific Islands Forum and attended the UNGA and UN Security Council meeting in New York. I do not believe it is a good use of staff time to itemise my meetings or engagements, not attempt to list the names of every person I met over the course of a month. If the member is interested in a specific issue or organisations then I might be able to provide more detailed information.
Hon Jo Goodhew (Associate Minister for Primary Industries) replied: As Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector I have a large number of meetings in Wellington and around New Zealand. In September I also attended the Social Enterprise World Forum in Hong Kong. I do not believe it is a good use of staff time to itemise my meetings or engagements, nor attempt to list the names of every person I met over the course of a month. If the member is interested in a specific issue or organisations then I might be able to provide more detailed information.
Clare Curran has recently been appointed Minister for Open Government. She should take the opportunity to propose to Cabinet the automatic release of ministerial schedules.
Although the sentiment regarding open governance is right - the practical application is fraught with exceptions. Diarised medical appointments, meetings with ones personal lawyers over say, a property transaction, etc. etc. Then you also get members of the public/businesses seeking an appointment with the Minister who want that appointment, if granted, to remain confidential. And then there are other commercially sensitive meetings for those Ministers with SOE and/or quangos within their portfolios.
My experience would suggest that around 30% of a Minister's diarised appointments might be reasonably withheld under the OIA - so I imagine if you amended the Cabinet Manual with respect to the automatic release of Ministerial diaries, one would need to apply OIA standards prior to release. And then, a Minister with a great deal of withheld timeslots ends up coming under suspicion - when in fact they might be having routine cancer treatment.
From your article, this is extremely disheartening;
We won’t be able to find out more from the two surveys: funding for them (largely from the Police budget) was cancelled recently. Wilkins admits he finds that frustrating… “We were too successful. You end up reporting something that people don’t want to hear.”
Hopefully with the new government that will change dramatically – as they (I hope) will be far more willing to admit we have a crisis and want to quantify/measure progress in addressing it.
If it wasn’t terrifying it would be fascinating.
In 1940, Mannheim wrote a piece called, Man and society in an age of reconstruction, in which he developed a typology of how institutions of governance interact with civil society to define social order. I think a lot about the situation in the US in respect of where they are going within this framework.
Longer term I’m starting to wonder if the public are willing to accept the binary system that they currently have.
Yes, relatives of mine in the US see that as a major problem - yet they feel that reform of political donations/money in politics is even more to blame for the deterioration of their democracy. And they see no way out in that regard.
Trump's failure to 'drain the swamp' has convinced them even more so that reform of the money in politics by elected members will never happen. Those that believe Trump had that intent at heart, simply see everything going on since through a lens that 'the swamp' wants rid of him.
Yup for sure, Russell, that's it in a nutshell. And as a baby boomer, I feel inadequate and helpless where protecting the grandchildren is concerned. Like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It was the reason for my desperation to get the baby boomers out of power at this election just past and such is my hope now that the generation of my children will solve it for theirs.
There is a particular problem with the current generation of synthetic cannabinoids. One is the way they lock people in. The users I’ve talked to talk about doing a couple of cones, going unconscious (or dissociated) for an hour or two then waking up and immediately needing more. It’s vicious.
The other is their sheer potency, which is a deadly problem when the product is dosed by idiots in suburban garages. That’s why people are dying.
Yes, and it's that aspect of these particular substances - combined with the spate of recent deaths - and discussions with those attending these overdose events in the community, that makes me think again in ways that are against the principles I used to hold. As I said, I'm horrified by my own thoughts, but then how else do we defend the innocent and vulnerable?
I accept what you say about the 'large majority' (although I do wonder whether that is more true yesterday than it might be today and going forward), but as someone at the funeral said, "this has to stop right here and right now". And I asked myself, how many funerals has that same phrase been used at?
importation penalties should be aligned with those for the most dangerous illicit drugs
That makes sense if it’s as good as it might get.
I attended the funeral of a friend’s daughter the other week – drug overdose and the thought was a suspected suicide, but with the type of unknown cuts/poisons on the street, how could we ever know? Her distraught father when I spoke to him following his return from identifying her body, commented on Hone Harawira’s suggestion that we introduce the death penalty for importation and manufacture of this shit.
Can’t say I’d necessarily oppose it if it was considered by our legislators – and that’s an admission by me that I’m horrified by. I simply can’t face the fact that every primary school child of today will no doubt become prey at some stage in their lives to these heinous individuals.