Some years ago we wrote about the restrictions that are placed on academics in New Zealand that effectively shut down debate and are a form of censorship.
The reason for putting New Zealand’s academics under state control is that they have the potential to be politically embarrassing. More recently, it has emerged that academics are being made to sign restrictive contracts before they’re permitted to access data (see the screen capture above or here on Dr Jarrod Gilbert’s blog) and in the case of the police contract, editorial control is taken out of the hands of the researcher.Furthermore, a breach of contract is likely to result in the academic researcher being “blacklisted”.
According to a recent comment made by Dr Sandra Grey, president of the NZ Tertiary Education Union
the conditions, which were attached to academics accessing publicly owned data, were being created because of the potential for political discomfort.
“Government departments are very sensitive to what headlines look like – as are ministers. It’s shutting down debate,” Dr Grey said.
“I can see a case where researchers will self-censor and the integrity of their work becomes problematic. I would caution any academics against signing contracts that threaten to limit academic freedom.”Last year, in an online survey by the NZ Association of Scientists 39.8 per cent of those responding said they had been kept from making public comment on controversial issues by their employer’s policy or for fear of losing funding.
The reason for why this is news again today? Because of an expose The New Zealand Herald published this morning which revealed that
“a police contract governing the access of data used for academic research was conditional on police having a “veto” power over the outcome.
The contract also forced academics to give police a draft of the final research in case of “negative results” and to then work with researchers to “improve its outcomes“.
Bear in mind this is data held by the police, owned and paid for by the tax payer. It appears any academic that wishes to access it must first sign a contract to give police authority over any outcomes before they’re published.
Both the Minister of Police and Justice Ministers have refused to comment on the scoop, which came about after Dr Jarrod Gilbert (an expert on New Zealand’s gangs) blew the whistle:
The contract emerged in a disagreement between renowned gang expert Dr Jarrod Gilbert and the police when the academic and Herald columnist attempted to access data for a Government research project on crime near licensed liquor outlets. Dr Gilbert, a lecturer at the University of Canterbury, also found himself personally banned because of his “association with gangs”.
In other words, academics can be banned simply for researching their subject matter.
For the background to Dr Jarrod Gilbert’s story and why he was outraged click here. But do it quickly, politically sensitive articles have a tendency to disappear from NZ media sites.
Dr Gilbert is a sociologist and author of the book “Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand“. He is currently working on a new project “Murder: A New Zealand History”
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…there’s a culture of secrecy and standoffishiness within the Police that’s aided and abetted by their blue-wearing friends in high places. Just remember the furore from former Minister of Police Judith Collins castigating critics of the police … and, for that matter, the rest of the justice system … for *daring* to hold Police to account and insist they actually follow the law when carrying out undercover operations (rather than, say, mercilessly forging court documents). In that instance, politicians protected police from embarrassment. Or at least, attempted to.
To witness this “special relationship” in action going the other way, look no further than the time Judith Collins protected Police over – proven – allegations that they’d manipulated crime statistics in order to make themselves and their political paymasters look good.
It was a relationship that benefited everybody (except, of course, for the poor long-suffering public and victims of crime). The Government got to trumpet claims that it had presided over and contributed to a drop in crime. The police got to say they were doing their jobs and meeting public service sector performance targets better than before.
So naturally, when concerns were raised that the Police’s efforts and crime stats might in fact have proven to be illusory, the relevant Minister decided not to look into claims the stats had been manipulated lest the Government find things they didn’t like.
Starting to get the picture here?… read on
Early Childhood Sector Spin and Propaganda. Why you Should NOT Put your Children in NZ’s Baby Farms – a politically embarrassing news article on which E2NZ.org based its report was was subsequently removed from the internet shortly after it was published. It talked about how propaganda was used to bury bad news after a damning report into early years childcare was released:
A few days ago we wrote about a New Zealand Herald article that was critical of the government handling of an early years child care report, and how government propaganda had been used to bury bad news.
Since then the original article on which our story was based has been removed from the NZ Herald’s web site. The original link was http://nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11544478.
Below are excerpts from the withdrawn article (in bold) which we published 3 days ago when the link was still live.”
The full transcript of the Herald’s article may be viewed at http://pastebin.com/7MDKvxz4