Official Information Act

National no longer transparent and open

It’s the natural progression of government. When they first come to power they open up all the previous government’s dirty laundry and they are all talking about open government.

But, as they create their own mistakes and start hiding the corpses, “open” government becomes a liability.

Opposition parties have accused the government of flouting the Official Information Act.

“This government is increasingly secretive and devious,” NZ First leader Winston Peters told parliament on Thursday.

“We have 10 outstanding complaints still with the Ombudsman, one dating back to 2014, which are serial examples of how a casual corruption is creeping in.”

He said his party had a witness to Ministry of Social Development staffers openly belittling the OIA.   Read more »

OIA process: “nothing that is malicious, nothing that is deliberate”

The long-awaited report on the way Government departments respond to Official Information Act requests is about to be released.

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem began the review at the end of last year after concerns were raised about delays in the release of information to the media.

She has investigated allegations of deliberate stalling when ministers or their departments didn’t want damaging reports published.

Dame Beverley last week gave an indication of her conclusions when she told a parliamentary committee she hadn’t discovered any worrying trends.

“Largely there is nothing that is malicious, nothing that is deliberate,” she told the committee.

“I think it’s more about process, practice and policy than it is about anything malevolent.”

Dame Beverley said delays were often caused by the volume of requests and the processes within each agency for dealing with them.

The release of her report today coincides with her departure.

Well, I don’t think that report is very thorough.   Read more »

Brownlee facing potential Ombudsman complaint due to lying in an OIA response

Gerry Brownlee can find his way to Devonport Naval base but so far has not managed to find Papakura Base.

Gerry Brownlee can find his way to Devonport Naval base but so far has not managed to find Papakura Base.

DEFENCE MINISTER Gerry Brownlee has been caught out over claims the Army was responsible for cancelling his one-and-only planned visit to the special unit forces base at Papakura.

A month ago Brownlee blamed the Army for the fact he hadn’t made a single visit to the Papakura military camp since being appointed Defence Minister back in October last year.

But Whaleoil can today reveal it was actually Brownlee who canned the December 2014 visit, and not the Army, as he claimed in response to questions lodged under the Official Information Act.   Read more »

Don’t stop at under-secretaries…make the OIA apply to ALL of parliament

Peter Dunne has caused the government to lose another vote in parliament.

He really is a self-important tosspot. There is only a small number of times he is going to be allowed to get away with all this carry on.

The government has lost a vote in parliament, and a bill to bring ACT leader David Seymour under the Official Information Act has passed its first reading.

Mr Seymour is parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and is exempt from the OIA, as under-secretaries always have been.

Labour thinks he should be subject to the provisions of the OIA, and brought a member’s bill to parliament to change the law.

Government MPs opposed it. But United Future leader Peter Dunne backed it and on Wednesday night the bill passed its first reading by 61 votes to 60.

Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe drafted the bill and said the exemption was an anomaly.   Read more »

Another Herald journo judged by his peers to have lied

On November 7 last year David Fisher ran a shabby hit piece against Customs and also Maurice Williamson about OIA processes inside the department.

Despite complaints to the NZ Herald they refused to withdraw the article even though factual errors had been pointed out to them. Shayne Currie the editor fought the complaints vociferously.

Customs persisted and complained to the Press Council.

The Press Council has found that David Fisher essentially made stuff up, in effect he lied in his article.

Wide concerns among the media and the public have led the Ombudsman to launch an investigation into Official Information Act practices in the public sector.
The Herald may have been entitled to form the view that departmental rules and guidelines, including requirements for consultation, do open the way to political influence and interference in information releases.
But the documents provided to the Herald, and referred to in the article, do not grant the minister the freedom to change whatever is released.
Therefore the part-sentence included in the article is factually incorrect and the Council upholds the complaint on that basis.

Press Council members considering the complaint were Sir John Hansen, Chris Darlow, Tim Beaglehole, Liz Brown, Jenny Farrell, Sandy Gill, Marie Shroff, Vernon Small, Mark Stevens and Stephen Stewart.
John Roughan took no part in the consideration of this complaint.

Read more »

Headlines you won’t see at the NZ Herald: Operations up massive 37% since 2008

If I provide data to a newspaper (and they’ve even won awards off of the back of that info) it is dirty politics, but when a politician does it the Herald journalist takes it and runs a negative hit job on the government and it is business as usual.

Despite figures showing a massive increase in elective surgery since National took over the NZ Herald decides to put NZ First’s negative spin on the headline and the article.

And don’t you just love the weaselly way they introduce the fact that it was NZ First who slipped them the numbers.

The Government’s much-publicised increase in hip, knee and other elective operations has been questioned in light of data which appeared to show the proportion of people missing out on treatment was growing.

But officials say growing waiting lists and a rising number of patients leaving hospital untreated do not tell the whole story.

The number of patients getting elective surgery has steadily increased over the past decade – especially after it was made a national health target in 2007. Since National came to power in 2008, the number of operations has lifted from 118,000 to 162,000 a year.

However, data released under the Official Information Act shows the proportion of patients on waiting lists who were leaving hospital untreated was also rising over the same period. As many as 30 per cent on waiting lists in some regions had their operation delayed or cancelled.

At Auckland District Health Board, there was a waiting list of 27,200 people for elective surgery last year. Of that number, 4558 patients – nearly 20 per cent – were admitted but left hospital without treatment. Last year up to November, 3822 patients out of 22,346 left untreated.

Read more »

Face of the day

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The Green Party asked for an investigation to see if the Prime Minister has broken public record laws following admissions made in Parliament that he deletes his texts.

Read more »

Why the silence? Bludgers don’t want us to know how much bludging they are doing

Team NZ always asking for more

Team NZ always asking for more

The bludgers in Team NZ are being assisted by the government who is playing secrets over precisely how large the bludging is.

This is completely unacceptable.

If taxpayers are stumping up cash then we are entitled to know just how much extra corporate bludging that Steven Joyce is happy to fund.

The Government will not say how much taxpayer cash Team New Zealand have requested to help bankroll their next tilt at the America’s Cup.

Documents about public funding of the yachting syndicate sought by the Herald through the Official Information Act were either heavily redacted or withheld by officials acting for Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

Citing the public’s right to know how its money is spent by public officials, theHerald has lodged an urgent appeal with the Ombudsman.  Read more »

Questioning the Extremely Dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council

Fenton "Jong-un" Wilson

Fenton “Jong-un” Wilson

Regular readers will know this blog considers the Hawkes Bay Regional Council to be extremely dodgy. Despite being the regulator they have attempted to build a dodgy socialist dam that will turn the Tukituki River toxic, and an independent Board of Inquiry basically couldn’t believe that the council’s experts had changed their opinion on whether Nitrogen levels needed to be managed. 

The tipline has been running hot with rumours about dodgy dealings at the Hawkes Bay Regional Council and their dodgy Chairman Fenton “Jong-Un” Wilson so we have decided to ask a series of questions using the Official Information Act to get to the bottom of what these ratbags have been up to.  

First up is an attempt to find out what happened with bully and all round bastard Andrew Newman’s salary.

Word is that some very, very dodgy dealings have happened to give him a grotesque salary increase of $84,000 at the beginning of the year, with Jong-Un Wilson hiding details of a previous independent evaluation from new councillors.    Read more »

Lydia Ko funding outcry earns Sports NZ some unwelcome attention

Fairfax is getting some resistance to finding out where all the tax payers’ money is really going once it leaves Sports NZ’s stash

Sport New Zealand is trying to stop information being released on the state of the government’s second-biggest Olympic investment and the findings of a review into Bike NZ’s capabilities.

Taxpayers will foot a bill of $70,500 after Sport NZ commissioned a review of Bike New Zealand – who received $18.3 million in public funding for its last Olympics campaign — and which looked at the national sport organisation’s financial state including the loss of its major sponsor, its relocation to Cambridge and high-performance planning in the wake of the sudden departure of successful national sprint coach Justin Grace and chief executive Kieran Turner.

Under the Official Information Act, Fairfax Media has requested details of the review. Sport NZ confirmed it had spent $70,500 on the review which was “initiated by BikeNZ” and “conducted by Martin Jenkins”, a domestic consultancy firm owned by former Sport NZ boss Nick Hill.

If you are in charge of spending tax payers’ money, you don’t get to choose what to reveal and what to keep secret.   Read more »