A very experienced political journalist told me: “The whole culture of the Wellington public service towards the OIA is governed by two things – the need not to embarrass your minister or your department (putting your chances of promotion or even your job at risk ) and the need to uphold the law, which public servants are more conscious of than you might think. The result is that public servants block requests for as long as they can and delete as much as they can using whatever section of the OIA act that they can.” –David Fisher, NZ Herald
Link received Thu, 23 Oct 2014 at 8:15 p.m.
### NZ Herald Online 2:56 PM Thursday Oct 23, 2014
David Fisher: OIA a bizarre arms race
NZ Herald journalist David Fisher gave the following speech to an audience of public officials in Wellington on October 15. We republish it here to help the public understand the systematic difficulties faced by those seeking information on their behalf.
Good afternoon everyone. I am David Fisher, a reporter with the NZ Herald. I have worked as a journalist for 25 years, mainly in New Zealand but across a number of other countries.
I think there’s some value before I start in placing a context around the current situation in relation to the media and the OIA. In doing so, it should be said each of the following allegations is denied.
At the moment, there is an inquiry underway into whether a blogger gained some advantage in receiving information from the SIS for political purposes. There are also allegations of preferential treatment over the OIA involving the same blogger and the former Justice Minister.
The police are also facing allegations of trying to cover up juked stats by burying an OIA. And a former Customs lawyer has said his organisation preferred to let requests languish in the Ombudsman’s office than dealing with them.
In the 25 years I have worked as a journalist, there have never been so many questions, or such a loss of faith, all at once.
Comment by Russell Garbutt
Submitted on 2014/10/24 at 10:40 am
I see that the mighty NZ Police have now decided to prosecute Nicky Hager over the fact that as a journalist he will not reveal who gave him copies of the emails that implicated so many of the National Party in downright crude manipulation and God only knows what else. Even that very friendly Speaker of the House has been forced to find that Key is a devious, slippery sod by not revealing his relationship with that scumbag Cameron Slater (watch the interesting exchange at yesterday’s question time here. http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/34526)
Isn’t it extraordinary that the NZ Police – such an independent body of public servants – jump so quickly whenever Donkey Jonkey and his mates want action, yet they are pleading under-resourcing for really serious crimes? Remember the infamous John Banks (you know, the little forgetful coot from Auckland) cup of tea PR stunt with Key? Key lays a complaint about the recording and the cops jump immediately. Collins, Key and others are shown to be dirty manipulators in Hager’s book and the cops immediately follow up. And how many others could say that their well-documented complaints have been diligently followed? I know of a few for starters, but let’s start with the Crewe murders and the bent cops who planted evidence. Did the cops diligently pursue anyone else when Thomas was pardoned? Not even when Rochelle Crew asked them to do so. The two bent cops were praised for their integrity and diligence by the very top cop after they died.
I could go on, but the perception out there is that the cops are politically driven.
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*Images: tvnz.co.nz – Dirty Politics: Cameron Slater, Nicky Hager; newstalkzb.co.nz (Getty) – John Key PM looking tired