Ombudsman

Key and PM Office told to stop farting around with OIA requests

The Chief Ombudsman has slammed the Prime Minister for delay tactics of releasing official information.

Dame Beverley Wakem says she intends to introduce a new set of standards covering Official Information Act (OIA) releases, as part of a major review.

Thomas Jefferson once said “information is the currency of democracy”, but it’s not always easy to get information.

Prime Minister John Key has previously admitted his office uses delaying tactics in releasing official information. Dame Beverley told The Nation that’s unacceptable.

“There’s a disregard for the law,” she says.

Information can be accessed from the Government and its agencies under the OIA. They must respond within 20 working days, but several examples have shown that is not always the case.

Emails released in book Dirty Politics showed blogger Cameron Slater was given preferential treatment for released information.    Read more »

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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 »

Another registered teacher in trouble, system broken and useless

This is becoming a bit of a joke but shouldn’t be due to the serious nature of offending by teachers.

They are becoming more and more like the Catholic Church as offenders are routinely charged.

The opposition continues to insist that compulsory registration of teachers will protect the kids…that is becoming a rather hollow promise.

An investigation into a teacher who allegedly struck two children that took five years to resolve was “unreasonable” and reflects poorly on all involved, the ombudsman says.

The teacher subject to the New Zealand Teachers Council (NZTC) investigation, referred to as Mr A, complained to the ombudsman about the delay, poor communication, and conduct of the complaints assessment committee (CAC) involved in his case.

The ombudsman upheld his complaints on those matters, finding he suffered avoidable stress and frustration as a result of the “woefully inadequate” communication from the CAC and the delays in the investigation.

It sounds like a real bugger’s muddle at the Teachers Council

Mr A was the subject of one conduct complaint in December 2006 and another, at a second school, was made to the NZTC and referred to a CAC in July 2008.

The conduct complained about involved incidents of alleged striking of two primary school students.

As a result of the investigation, Mr A’s registration was suspended and he signed a voluntary agreement which required him to undergo a risk assessment to determine whether he could safely return to the classroom, the ombudsman’s report said.   Read more »

Has Len Brown never heard of the LGOIMA?

Len Brown is fighting to keep his deal with councillors over repayment secret. He has got bad news coming down the line if he thinks he can do that.

Bernard Orsman reports:

Expectations are rising for a settlement by Auckland Mayor Len Brown towards the $100,000-plus cost of a review into his extramarital affair to be made public.

Three of the five councillors negotiating a settlement – Chris Fletcher, George Wood and Dick Quax – believe it is the wish of the group to make the settlement public.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and Penny Webster, the other two on the negotiating group, are staying quiet.

Mr Brown told the Herald last week that when councillors set up a group last month to enter into binding negotiations, the resolution was the settlement would be confidential.

He can’t hide, there is a little problem for Len Brown called the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act and it will most definitely apply to the meetings of 5 councillors and him settling a repayment. They made it council business.  Read more »

Union thug and lame horse gets a pasting

The Waikato Times editorial writer is obviously a keen reader of this blog and my revelations about Corrections union clown Beven Hanlon and his lies and his inappropriate Facebook posts.

Talking about the recent Con Air NZ flights story (which the Dom Post said were secret and new, but have actually been happening for years), the editorial says :

The Corrections Association was not so reticent, accusing Corrections of putting public safety at risk with what it called “secret” flights. Association president Beven Hanlon said repeated inquiries among prison officers found no one who had been aware of the flights until late last year. In his 16 years as an officer and a decade as head of the union, he had never heard of a maximum security prisoner being put on a plane with the public. He was shocked.

But then the killer:  Read more »

Con AirNZ scandal busted, lies by union and Labour

Beven Hanlon smirking at deceiving Dompost

Beven Hanlon smirking at deceiving Dompost

Beven Hanlon rushed of to the media, aided by staff, presumably, at Rimutaka prison about an apparent scandal that prisoners were being flown on scheduled flights.

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern was demanding answers as well, properly prepped by an incredulous Beven Hanlon who professes to know nothing about flights despite being the union boss for the Corrections Department.

Unfortunately for all concerned including a gullible media who went along with the scam this is a fairly common occurrence and was even covered by a comprehensive report into prisoner transport in 2007.

That would be the same 2007 where Helen Clark was still prime minister and Labour was the government.

The report was presented to and tabled in parliament and is a matter of public record. It was prepared and presented by John Belgrave, Chief Ombudsman and Mel Smith, Ombudsman.

On page 86 there is a section on prisoner transport by air, which states.

Transport of prisoners by air is common. In two sample 3 month periods for April–June in 2005 and 2006, there were 224 and 319 transports of prisoners by air.

These figures exclude exceptional flights for compassionate reasons, or urgent court orders to produce prisoners.

Air transport is used to move prisoners between North and South Islands, and within the North and South Islands where time factors demand. Additionally, there are certain situations where air transport is more economical than road – as where a very small number of prisoners need to be transferred from Auckland to Wellington.    Read more »

Looks like another tough question time for Hekia coming up

Politician of the Week, Chippie will be like a rat up a drain pipe with this one.

The Office of the Ombudsman says it’s seeing a worrying trend of agencies seeking to exclude certain types of information from the application of the Official Information Act.

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem says it appears some agencies are routinely drafting new or amending legislation in a way that means people can’t apply under the act for access to information.

She says there have been incidents where her office hasn’t been consulted, one example being the cabinet paper on proposed charter schools.

Dame Beverley says the fact that her office was not consulted is either total ineptitude or a deliberate attempt to try to exclude the oversight of the ombudsman.

He’s got two weeks to work out his line of questioning, and after his performance over the last few weeks it is hard to imagine he won’t have questions about “total ineptitude” or “a deliberate attempt to exclude the oversight of the Ombudsman.

Beverly Wakem has given bugger all wriggle room on this one.

Schools must release data

Stuff.co.nz

Schools have been ticked off by the Ombudsman in a stern letter, explaining to them their obligations under the Official Information Act. The NZEI should cease and desist from their illegal actions is essentially what she has told them:

Schools have been told to disregard the advice of a primary teachers’ union and instead release controversial National Standards performance information.

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem has written to all schools after some brushed off requests for the data with a pro-forma response provided by the New Zealand Educational Institute.

Dame Beverley said the advice NZEI had offered “conflicted” with that provided by the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

“In my view boards of trustees are entitled to rely on the advice conveyed by the NZSTA. However, boards that rely on the advice conveyed by the NZEI risk an adverse finding being made against them by an Ombudsman under the [law],” she said.

Schools that had acted, or were considering acting, “in accordance with the NZEI advice” should reconsider, she said.

Those that continued to refuse or extend release of information would face an investigation, which “may find that a board has acted unreasonably or contrary to the law”.

NZEI continues to advise schools to ignore the OIA

the tipline

NZEI President, Ian Leckie,  in a letter sent to schools yesterday is still advising schools to ignore the law and refuse OIA requests. This is not only illegal but also unacceptable in a transparent society. The NZEI is now even lecturing the Chief Ombudsman over the matter.

Why is it the NZEI cannot follow the law?

Surely it is time for the NZEI to be de-registered for such blatant law-breaking:

 

Ombusman again investigating Brown

Len Brown refused to tell us who was at his Volare dinner until I laid a complaint with the Ombusdsmen. Finally months after the election we were told, but only after Len Brown was forced to.

Now it seems that Len Brown and his staff are refusing to answer more questions, this time about his staff appointment process.

The ombudsman is investigating why Auckland Council is dodging questions over whether a mayoral office staffer knew she was going to get a job in the new administration before she accepted thousands in redundancy.

The council’s lawyers cited privacy reasons for refusing to say whether a key worker in mayor Len Brown’s office was interviewed for her role before she took redundancy from another council.

Former Papakura District Council chief executive Theresa Stratton started work in Brown’s office in November last year as part of a three-year fixed-term contract. She is one of 16 staff members paid a total of about $1.75 million a year. The mayoral office is independent of the council’s administration and Brown is able to employ anyone he wants.

When Stratton left the Papakura council, which became part of the new Auckland Council, she received redundancy of $209,730 comprising 105,628 for the remaining weeks on her contract and $104,102 in lieu of notice.

Responding to an Official Information Act request, the council said it was happy to say when Stratton began her role in Brown’s office but not when she was interviewed.

“This information is withheld… to protect the privacy of natural persons,” council public information adviser Brina Burden said. Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem has launched an investigation into the council’s response.

What privacy issue could possibly be involved in telling us the date of Theresa Stratton’s application for a role. The only reason for that being hidden is because it shows she is a double dipper, taking a big fat redundancy cheque when she already had a cushy job lined up with Len Brown. Again len Brown is dying in the ditch for his hand-picked lieutenants and for silly reasons.

There is no valid reason to hide these details asked for in LGOIMA requests.

Len Brown continues to have a transparency and truth issue, despite campaigning on these very things. I bet he has a public transport truth issue too now. Why can’t he just tell the truth and answer simple questions. By trying to hide the issues it just makes journalists wonder why he is trying to hide them.