Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Dunne speaks - Make MPs Accountable

Dunne speaks - Make MPs Accountable


The ruckus over a National MP’s spending and a critical performance review of the Parliamentary Service highlight two unsatisfactory aspects of the way we currently run Parliament.

Spending by MPs has always been a vexed question and control over it has never been satisfactorily resolved. The approach to date, typified by the widely-hailed but actually fundamentally flawed report of former Auditor-General Kevin Brady, has been to treat MPs as just another branch of the public service and apply broadly the same types of rules and controls to their spending. (What is about retired senior public servants, who seem to have an inbuilt resentment of MPs? Henry failed like Brady in exactly the same way.) Under this approach, the focus has been to empower the Parliamentary Service to exercise greater control and accountability, but this has essentially failed.

The current approach is also constitutionally suspect. Parliament is elected to oversee and hold to account the executive branch of government for its conduct and performance, and is in turn, held to account by the public every three years for its stewardship. Yet the mentality of the Brady approach, which has been the prevailing norm of recent years, has actually turned that on its head. Parliament and Members of Parliament are now in so many ways subservient to rules devised by anonymous risk-averse bureaucrats, who like to see every situation as being able to be fitted in one or another set of neat boxes. (There are also strong shades of this blind rigidity in the way the Electoral Commission chooses to administer electoral law.)

However, there is a simple and fair solution available – make MPs fully accountable to the public in the first instance, and not the bureaucracy, by bulk-funding them for their office and related expenditure and requiring them to publish annual accounts of their expenditure (as Ministers are obliged to do already). Under this model, the bureaucrats’ role will become the proper one of assisting and advising elected representatives, not controlling them. Control and accountability will return to the people of New Zealand to be exercised through the ballot box.

Yes, but will this ever happen? Sadly, probably not, I suspect. And the reason is simple and selfish. The last thing National and Labour want is for their MPs to have more individual control of their own spending, because that could make them more independent of the collective, and loosen party discipline. Just imagine what a recalcitrant MP could in such circumstances! Remember the fuss whenever an MP leaves a party and takes their funding with them. Having MPs exercise that type of independence while staying in the Caucus is just too difficult to contemplate, so the fallback becomes the current unsatisfactory externally imposed rules.

So, an accepted unsatisfactory situation looks set to continue. Bureaucrats whom no-one voted for will continue to try to impose arbitrary and unworkable rules on their political masters, who will continue to devise ways to thwart them. And every now and then, there will be a stupid MP who gets caught, and further damages the standing and credibility of all MPs as a consequence.

Good copy while it lasts, it may well be, but it is certainly not good governance.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: A Govt. Christmas Bad News Dump -The Skycity Convention Center Blowout & A Negative MBIE Review

If the government really did have good tidings of great joy you can bet it wouldn’t be strewing them about at Christmas time – which is, traditionally, the dumping ground for terrible news that the government fervently hopes the public will be too distracted to notice. And so verily this Christmas Eve we learn of (a) the explosion of costs to the taxpayer and ratepayer of the vile SkyCity convention centre in Auckland and that (b) the government’s flagship MBIE “super-ministry” run by its Minister of Everything is a disaster zone of incompetence and mismanagement. MBIE is a Titanic looking for an iceberg, or so it would seem. More>>

 

Parliament Adjourns:

Greens: CAA Airport Door Report Conflicts With Brownlee’s Claims

The heavily redacted report into the incident shows conflicting versions of events as told by Gerry Brownlee and the Christchurch airport security staff. The report disputes Brownlee’s claim that he was allowed through, and states that he instead pushed his way through. More>>

ALSO:

TAIC: Final Report On Grounding Of MV Rena

Factors that directly contributed to the grounding included the crew:
- not following standard good practice for planning and executing the voyage
- not following standard good practice for navigation watchkeeping
- not following standard good practice when taking over control of the ship. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On The Pakistan Schoolchildren Killings

The slaughter of the children in Pakistan is incomprehensibly awful. On the side, it has thrown a spotlight onto something that’s become a pop cultural meme. Fans of the Homeland TV series will be well aware of the collusion between sections of the Pakistan military/security establishment on one hand and sections of the Taliban of the other… More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Satire:
The Politician’s Song

am a perfect picture of the modern politic-i-an:
I don’t precisely have a plan so much as an ambition;
‘Say what will sound most pleasant to the public’ is my main dictum:
And when in doubt attack someone who already is a victim More>>

ALSO:

Flight: Review Into Phillip Smith’s Escape Submitted To Government

The review follows an earlier operational review by the Department of Corrections and interim measures put in place by the Department shortly after prisoner Smith’s escape, and will inform the Government Inquiry currently underway. More>>

ALSO:

Intelligence: Inspector-General Accepts Apology For Leak Of Report

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, has accepted an unreserved apology from Hon Phil Goff MP for disclosing some of the contents of her recent Report into the Release of Information by the NZSIS in July and August 2011 to media prior to its publication. The Inspector-General will not take the matter any further. More>>

ALSO:

Drink: Alcohol Advertising Report Released

The report of the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship has been released today, with Ministers noting that further work will be required on the feasibility and impact of the proposals. More>>

ALSO:

Other Report:

Leaked Cabinet Papers: Treasury Calls For Health Cuts

Leaked Cabinet papers that show that Government has been advised to cut the health budget by around $200 million is ringing alarm bells throughout the nursing and midwifery community. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news