Much of the debate surrounding my application to the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT) for access to the Marris Report involves the word confidential. The views of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) are very different from mine.

In my view an agency responsible for a main-stream sport, dependent on public membership and reliant on the government for the majority of its funding has a duty to every New Zealander to be open and honest with as much information as possible. Members should receive Board minutes. Information on legal disputes should be posted on SNZ’s website. Members own the organisation. Almost without exception – the members need to be told what is going on.

The Board of SNZ don’t see it that way. Board minutes, that used to be published, are locked away in Steve Johns’ keeping, hidden from the membership. The clear assumption of the SNZ Board is that the organisation belongs to them. The membership is secondary, objects to be kept in the dark. I have a dozen letters and emails that in one way or another tell me SNZ’s views on an issue and add the qualification that the letter or email is confidential, not to be published under any circumstances. And to reinforce their paranoia for secrecy, I am threatened with having my membership suspended if I dare let anyone know what SNZ has said.

The contradiction between my belief in the rights of the membership to know and the Board of SNZ’s demand for secrecy is as frustrating as all can be. What does SNZ have to hide? What are they scared of SNZ’s membership finding out?

Take, for example, the decision of the Privacy Commission to find SNZ guilty of interfering in my privacy and their recommendation that SNZ undertake a course of privacy training. That is important news. The membership has a right to know that the agency responsible for their children’s sport has been found guilty of mismanaging privacy issues. Parents will be rightly concerned that their children’s information is being handled by an organisation that a government agency is recommending undertake a course in privacy.

Why weren’t those circumstances posted on the SNZ website? Why did SNZ revert to the secrecy that caused them their problems in the first place? What an ideal opportunity the current dispute would have been to turn a new leaf, to display a new openness. But instead SNZ reverted to type. They said nothing and threatened anyone who told the truth to the membership. It is disgusting.

I have published as much as I can about the Marris Report dispute. But believe me the amount I have been able to tell you, the members, is far less than I would like, far less than you should be told. My hope is that the proceedings of the HRRT together with the tradition of open justice will force SNZ’s hand. Hopefully a by-product of this dispute will result in a more democratic, a more open sport; a better place for New Zealanders to play.

After all what are SNZ so scared of? This is the sport of swimming. It is not the Five Eyes spying cartel or the secret files of the SIS. I’d love to know the policy behind the Board’s decision to hide almost everything from the membership. Are they so insecure in their ability to govern? Do they make too many mistakes? Are they up to no good? The point is we just don’t know. When our leaders hide everything, when they won’t reveal what’s in the Marris Report, we are entitled to believe the worst. Does Marris question SNZ’s handling of the investigation? Does he find incompetence? Again we just don’t know.

But be assured as far as I am able Swimwatch will report on the progress of the Marris Report dispute. I want to avoid losing my SNZ membership, although for the life of me I don’t know why. So I couldn’t get onto the pool deck at the National Championships. So what? You get a better view from the stands anyway. The last thing Eyad needs at the Nationals, is me bagging on into his ear while he warms up. Eyad would probably send SNZ a thankyou letter if I was banished into the stands.

But back to the Marris Report. No posts on Swimwatch does not necessarily mean nothing is happening. It maybe just that I have been threatened by SNZ. But fear not the truth will be told. Eventually the full story will see the light of day. If you see me sitting in the stands at a future Nationals read Swimwatch. It will probably tell you why.

0 responses. Leave a Reply

  1. Swimwatch


    Be the first to leave a comment!

Comments are closed.