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Friday, February 03, 2012

Kiwis show incoming government briefs

And show us up. What a contrast. Just over two months after the election, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key yesterday posted online a consolidated list of briefings to incoming ministers, with links to each briefing document. Not that disclosure of the briefs is anything new in NZ-it's been accepted as routine for years, as has disclosure of cabinet material.

I haven't looked at the content ,and material has been redacted from the briefs, in some cases such as Foreign Affairs, controversially. While many of our federal agencies, led by Treasury got onto the front foot with significant pro-active disclosure of briefs following the 2010 election, government leaders in the states that have held elections in recent times, South Australia, Victoria and NSW, chose to hide behind an FOI cabinet document set up, and leave it to applicants slug it out.

At least reasons given for the need for confidentiality in Victoria last week would have given the Yes Prime Minister team, currently playing in Melbourne ,some good local lines-release would ''delay the operation of effective government in Victoria,'' damage government's relationship with the public service, and mislead the public. Sir Humphrey's best of course was "Minister, you can be open or you can have government but you can't have both."

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