By moving to set up a thorough, independent enquiry, the Government (a.k.a. Helen Clark) has recognised the seriousness of the corruption revealed at the Immigration Service.
It probably helped that she was very angry, too. She does not like being caught unawares, and her anger yesterday was palpable. “It’s fair to say the confidence of the Cabinet has been somewhat shattered” was the least of it.
It is great to see a quick (as these things go) response. Best of all, this will be a truly independent enquiry, and will therefore go a long way to restoring our bruised confidence in the integrity of our public service.
For one thing, Auditor-General Kevin Brady is nobody’s poodle. He’s the one whose criticism of various parties’ use of public money at the last election caused so much consternation in 2006, not least on the Ninth Floor. At the time the Herald editorialised that, “few public officials have performed their duties more bravely and honourably than … Kevin Brady.”
Also, the Auditor General has the power “to require documents and information to be handed over, and for evidence to be given under oath”, as the Herald puts it.
Importantly, the Auditor General gets to set the terms of reference. This is especially welcome, as much doubt has been cast over various enquiries in recent years due to overly tight terms of reference. Perhaps we have turned a corner here.
[Footnote: Strangely, in view of the praise heaped on Brady just 17 months ago, the Herald barely mentioned these aspects of yesterday's announcement. Maybe this doesn't fit the story that the paper is trying to tell?]