Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When is an official independent?

Joris de Bres thinks that the government should continue to pay him to be a critic of it. It raises the issue as to when state sector employees are meant to be independent and when they can effectively lobby politically.

He went to the Geneva Racism Conference, in his "independent capacity" then criticised the government, parroting the Labour Party point of view.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said "I am not sure whether he is there is an official capacity or as a representative of the Labour Party". Of course de Bres's boss, Rosslyn Noonan is herself a card carrying member of the Labour Party, and saw nothing wrong with it.

The Human Rights Commission is meant to be independent, in terms of enforcing the hideous law that created it. In that respect its independence is justified. It must be able to criticise politicians when they break the law. Ros Noonan did so on the Electoral Finance Bill.

However, for paid employees at the level of de Bres to attend international conferences in a private capacity (we have yet to find out who paid for the trip), and then use the trip as a platform to do politicking when it is NOT part of his job, is outrageous.

Imagine if a National Party member, was a government official, and went to the US to complain about NZ's nuclear ban - how would the Labour Party welcome that?

Exactly. De Bres should go, Noonan should be warned.

No Minister agrees.

Of course, I'd abolish the Human Rights Commission, but that's another story.

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