Obviously, anyone paying much attention in recent weeks has been serially appalled/amazed/cynically amused by The Great Fish Dumping Fiasco, and the evidence of top Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) officials being caught in email flagrante saying such stuff as… how they don’t dare to enforce the official policy because they’d put half the industry out of business and/or would get offside with the skippers they’re supposed to be monitoring – which could be fatal for keeping a regulatory contract that’s subsequently been
(a) handed over to a company with ownership links to the industry and
(b) where the monitoring role is seemingly awarded on condition that the regulator doesn’t do anything likely to earn the disfavour of the industry they’re supposed to be regulating.
Incredibly, the MPI cameras installed on boats were put there to detect and deter the unlawful depletion of the nation’s fish stocks – but MPI then concluded that this footage could not subsequently be used in court to clinch the prosecution of those caught on camera actually depleting the nation’s fish stocks. In fact, having the MPI cameras on board ship seemed to create a virtual immunity for anyone violating the rules that the cameras were there to spot… In fact, it has transpired the cameras were there in an entirely passive monitoring role, and not an active enforcement one.
Ultimately, the legal advice to MPI was that they couldn’t use the footage compiled for one purpose – assessing the health of the fisheries – for the allegedly different purpose of prosecuting the people putting that health at risk. At least that’s assumed to be what the legal advice given to MPI actually said. In the final absurdity, the relevant legal advice is being kept under wraps, lest the government set a precedent by divulging the legal advice on which it supposedly acts. (This secrecy convention also enables the government of the day to conveniently hide the occasions when it chooses for political reasons to diverge from what it has been told it should be doing, under the law.)
Enter Prime Minister John Key. At yesterday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “ Problem? What problem?” mode. Read the rest of this entry »