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Govt Rams Through New Secrecy Laws

11 December 2001

Govt Rams Through New Secrecy Laws In Local Govt Pay Setting

Ratepayers have been short-changed by a new law that requires absolute secrecy in the determination of the salaries and allowances for New Zealand's 74 Mayors and 1006 Councillors, National MP Nick Smith said today.

"There is no justification for the Official Information Act being bypassed and for the work of the Higher Salaries Commission being totally secret when private and commercially sensitive information is already protected.

"This new law is an affront to open, accountable Government. It is all the more extraordinary that the law provides a penalty of up to three months in prison for telling the public how their money is being spent.

"Slipping this amendment in at the last moment is offensive. There has been no public consultation, no public submissions, and this is being done against the unanimous recommendation of the Select Committee.

"Even the Higher Salaries Commission has said the secrecy provisions are 'not vital' to their work, yet the Government still rushes the legislation through.

"Any commitment by Labour, Alliance and the Greens to open, transparent Government is in tatters after this Parliamentary sham over secrecy in salary setting for Local Government," Dr Smith said.


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