Governor John Rankin has expressed some concerns with the language of the amended Register of Interest Act, and believes it may be contrary to the new culture of transparency and accountability the government is trying to foster in the territory.
In a press conference earlier today, the Governor said the House of Assembly (HOA) has recently passed the bill with some amendments and said he only received the text of those amendments earlier this morning and he needs to study them and their impact in greater detail.
Rankin clarified there was nothing untoward about receiving the copy of the bill this late as it takes a while for the clerks to write the bill and have it approved by the Attorney General.
“I am concerned that the effect of the amendment is to significantly restrict public access to the register and if that is so, it runs counter to the new culture of transparency and accountability towards which we are working following the Commission of Inquiry
and in line with commitments made in the framework document. The bill has not yet formally come to me for assent, and I want to consider the language carefully,” the Governor said.
Rankin further said he must consider the changes made and the impact they might have.
“If I have concerns on them, I discuss them with the Premier and others as necessary so let me not go too far ahead. My concern is this: there are different types of public registers. In the United Kingdom for example, if any journalist or member of the public wishes to see the register, find out what the interest registered for Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss or indeed Prime Minister Johnson
; they can find them available and copy them and publish them,” Rankin said.
“My initial understanding of the amendments that were made in the House of Assembly is that it would be a lot more restrictive; that someone could go look at the register but then what they could do with that information would be more restrictive. So, that is for me to look at and study and if I have believed some further steps are required in that matter in terms of breach of transparency, then, of course, I will discuss it with the Premier,” the Governor said.