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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Like Jem, the minister is truly, truly, truly outrageous 

Here at BIR HQ we've been seething as we heard from mainstream media that most people just don't understand the issue at all, which is the most bitterly disappointing element of this fucking outrage.

We cannot believe that when a Minister abuses her access to departmental information for political reasons and thereby causes a serious breach of two individuals' privacy (she'd clearly breach the Privacy Act were she covered by it) the majority response is anger over the amount the two women receive in state support. Nevermind that a proportion of it likely comes via the fathers' child support payments to the IRD.

Poor show New Zealand! It's ironic that Paula Benefit and the public overlook the fact that Benefit surely approves of the amount they receive by virtue of the office she holds. She is responsible for the actions of her department, which determines and pays the support.

We know that there are privacy guidelines for Ministers that she followed (followed in the sense that she's a clueless bitch) but her actions were unprincipled in the extreme. It would have been illegal had her Ministry done it on her behalf. She has scored political points against two beneficiaries by abusing laws and then hiding behind the protections of her office. Fucking outrageous.

Our favourite analogy (from the Herald's "Your Views", where beneficiary bashers are in the majority about 20-1):
If I decide to go down to the local IRD office with a placard and protest that I am paying too much tax, I do not expect the IRD to release my tax records to the press.
Although it should read Peter Dunne, rather than "the IRD", which would increase the impact and accuracy!

Our favourite analysis (from norightturn):
The other question is where the matter stops. What say a minister decided to release the tax return details of a complainant? Or their shonky work history? Or some criminal conviction that had been long buried? Let's face it, it's not a fair fight (Colin Espiner)

And that's the real problem here. The government collects all sorts of information about us as part of its ordinary business - information on tax, crimes or criminal complaints, health, travel, education - and we expect that the relevant departments will generally keep that information private. We do not expect it to end up in the Minister's hands to be used as political ammunition if we dare to raise our voice.

The BIR Team

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