Yesterday Sue Kedgley asked Agriculture Minister David Carter some questions in Parliament about allegations that the Pork Industry Board was deliberately attempting to evade the Official Information Act with respect to information about animal welfare in piggeries. Sue’s questions followed a leaked email from the Pork Industry Board:
It is likely there will be a number of farms requiring corrective actions and … those actions could cause embarrassment to the farmer if made public and could cause embarrassment to the industry if used by animal welfarists, [so] some alternatives to current procedures were put forward.
Here’s David Carter’s response to Sue:
SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister of Agriculture: Is he taking any action in response to reports that the Pork Industry Board sought to avoid the public embarrassment of reporting conditions in New Zealand piggeries by deliberately evading the Official Information Act; if not, why not?
Hon DAVID CARTER (Minister of Agriculture): No, and for a very simple reason: I have no responsibility for the Pork Industry Board being compliant with the Official Information Act.
But a quick check of section 6 of the Pork Industry Board Act shows that it provides:
(7)It is also a function of the Board to report regularly to the Minister on—
(a) the performance and present state of the New Zealand pork industry; and
(b) the Board’s achievement of its object; and
(c) the Board’s performance of its functions; and
(d) any other matters the Board thinks fit or the Minister requests.
And under Schedule 2 of the Act, the Minister can “remove a director from office for disability affecting performance of duty, bankruptcy, breach of any duty set out in Schedule 1 that applies to the director, or misconduct, proved to the Minister’s satisfaction.”
I suspect this story has a wee way to run.