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NZ Post Ruling A Victory for Democracy

NZ Post Ruling A Victory for Parliamentary Democracy

Friday 23rd Feb 2001 Richard Prebble Media Release -- Governance & Constitution

ACT Leader Hon Richard Prebble said the judge’s decision to refuse NZ Post’s (a State Owned Enterprise) application for a gagging writ against a Member of Parliament is an important victory for the Westminster system of Parliamentary democracy.

“The judge accepted that NZ Post cannot selectively give documents to some MPs and then demand them back from an opposition MP.

“The case is historic in that it is I understand the first time any organisation, either state owned or private, has sought a gagging writ against an MP, claiming that the information the MP has is confidential. NZ Post requested extraordinarily wide orders demanding that not only I give them all the information I have regarding the business case for the so-called People’s Bank, but I also name my sources, name everyone I have given the information to, and that I be permanently silenced from discussing matters I have discovered from the business plan.

“If NZ Post had succeeded, this would not only have neutered Parliament, but also every news media organisation in the country.

“Instead, the judge has set what I believe will become an important precedent by establishing that the public interest is in favour of open disclosure.

“I believe the board of NZ Post needs to carefully reflect on its responsibilities to Parliament and the public. Its threat to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal shows a complete lack of understanding of its role as a public entity and the need for it to be accountable. It is absurd for NZ Post to be seeking $78 million of taxpayers’ money from Parliament, while claiming that it can keep secret the risks in its business plan when a private company seeking investment is required by law to issue a prospectus setting out its business plan and the risks in the investment.

“It is time for the Minister of State Owned Enterprises to remind the chairman of NZ Post of his responsibilities,” Hon Richard Prebble said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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