Chief Ombudsman | OIA review

“The effective operation of the OIA is crucial to our system of open and democratic government, and this review will scrutinise how things are currently operating and set out a framework for systemic improvement where deficiencies are identified.” –Beverley Wakem, Chief Ombudsman

Beverley Wakem 1 [nbr.co.nz]### NZ Herald Online 2:11 PM Tuesday Dec 16, 2014
Government offices selected for OIA review
By Isaac Davison – NZ Herald political reporter
The Chief Ombudsman says a major review of the Official Information Act will scrutinise all 27 government ministers’ offices.
Dame Beverley Wakem today began her review of the way the public sector used the OIA, which she first announced in August.
Twelve government agencies have been selected for formal review, based on their size, number of OIA requests, complaints, and other criteria.
A further 63 agencies and all ministers’ offices have been asked to complete a detailed survey. At least one agency cited for good OIA practice would be included in the review.
The Ombudsman’s office would also seek input from past and present public servants, Opposition parties, journalists, academics and others.
Dame Beverley said the goal was to assess the quality and integrity of OIA practice in the public sector and to address any issues that were found.
Read more

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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12 Comments

Filed under Business, Democracy, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, New Zealand, NZRU, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Sport, Stadiums

12 responses to “Chief Ombudsman | OIA review

  1. John Evans

    Elizabeth , on page 20 of yesterday’s ODT there is an article by Steve Hepburn on the privatisation of the Highlanders.

    Para. 4 states that “The owner of the licence ( to be issued) gets to control some parts of the franchise and receives income from MATCH TICKETS and sponsorship.”

    Surely the ratepayers/ DVL, DMVL whatever should get the majority share of the match ticket revenue??

    Otherwise not only are Dunedin ratepayers paying exhorbitant amounts for Otago Rugby to continue/ survive, but the ratepayers are also being herded into a position where they fund the FRANCHISE OWNER.

    Why do the people of Dunedin not see this racket?

    Regards

  2. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Tue, 16 Dec 2014
    Rugby: Privatisation of franchise some way off
    By Steve Hepburn
    The process of privatising the Highlanders continues but any deal is still some way off. The southern franchise is the last of the five New Zealand Super rugby teams to seek a private licensing agreement, and negotiations are continuing over any investment from individuals or groups. New Zealand Rugby has granted private licences for the other four franchises. Initially, the Highlanders were not part of this process but, with finances more secure, the process has begun.
    Read more

    John – Although I was in receipt of some info last week about contracts to be signed (hopefully) by Christmas and the bargaining power of DVML, I unequivocally share your thoughts about another unsavoury gouge on ratepayers. I do think my source was either too hopeful or not being 100% transparent, conveniently.

  3. Elizabeth

    Russell Garbutt at another thread says: “Some persistent questions in an excellent North and South feature on Police corruption in regard to the Crewe murder case….” (continues) Link

  4. Elizabeth

    Other organisations subject to the Act and its local government equivalent are often reluctant to comply with the Act’s spirit let alone its letter, although there are exceptions.

    ### ODT Online Sat, 17 Jan 2015
    Editorial: Abuse of Official Information Act
    The major review of the Official Information Act, now under way, is none too soon. Dame Beverley Wakem, the Chief Ombudsman, is to scrutinise the way the public sector has used the OIA. Given what has already emerged, the findings are likely to be dismal. The Act, supposedly a positive part of open information, has been cynically and regularly abused. […] What has been alarming has been the way some agencies, including their so-called ”communications” officers, have increasingly seen themselves as part of the Government rather than public servants.
    Read more

  5. Elizabeth

    ### nzherald.co.nz 12:43 PM Tuesday Oct 13, 2015
    Tim Groser acted ‘unlawfully’ over TPP
    By Isaac Davison – political reporter.
    Trade Minister Tim Groser acted unlawfully in withholding some information about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the High Court has ruled.
    Anti-TPP activist and University of Auckland academic Professor Jane Kelsey and others sought a judicial review of Mr Groser’s decision to reject an Official Information Act (OIA) request for eight categories of documents which related to the 12-nation trade deal.
    In a judgement released this morning, Justice David Collins said Mr Groser failed to follow the rules set out in the Official Information Act before refusing her request.
    Read more

    ****

    Decision-makers under the OIA are entitled to charge for the time taken to collect and review the relevant information, and may decide that the cost of responding to requests will have to increase as a result. This is probably not the outcome Prof Kelsey and the other applicants in the High Court wanted.

    ### nzherald.co.nz 11:54 AM Wednesday Oct 14, 2015
    Nick Russell: OIA and TPP – Be careful what you wish for
    OPINION The High Court has found that the Minister of Trade Negotiations, the Hon Tim Groser, acted unlawfully when he refused Professor Jane Kelsey’s Official Information Act request for documents relating to the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    The decision, released yesterday, is a clear setback for the Government, but not for the reasons you might think.

    The court’s main criticism of the Minister was that he made his decision to withhold documents without reviewing their contents. […] This will be unwelcome to many in the public service. The Official Information Act doesn’t just apply to ministers and government departments: it also applies to a huge range of public sector entities including universities, district health boards, regulatory bodies such as the Commerce Commission, and many, many more.

    Similar rules apply (via the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act) to councils and other local government entities.

    All of these bodies will now be reviewing their processes for responding to OIA requests to make sure they comply with the court’s decision. In some cases that will mean having to take substantially more time and effort than in the past.
    Read more

    ● Nick Russell is a partner at Chen Palmer, New Zealand public and employment law specialists.

    ****

    ### standard.org.nz 10:44 am, 15 Oct 2015
    Court’s decision on TPP OIA has both Nats and Ombudsman squirming
    By Anthony Robins
    As recently covered here, the High Court has upheld Jane Kelsey’s application for a declaration that the Government and Tim Groser improperly considered her application for information concerning the TPPA negotiations.
    The Nats aren’t happy….
    Read more

    ****

    Professor Andrew Geddis (via Pundit) cited by The Standard:

    “The third audience for this judgment is the Ombudsman’s office, and the Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem in particular. Because it is fair to say that she does not come out of the judgment all that well. Not only does Justice Collins find that she apparently misunderstands how a quite key legal test under the OIA is meant to apply (at para. [139]), but her failure to pick up MFAT/Tim Groser’s ignoring of proper process is quite concerning.

    After all, the Ombudsman is meant to be the primary check on those who hold official information failing to abide by their legal obligations. If that office is not noticing those failures – if it is basically waving through decisions that fail to comply with the OIA – then what is a citizen to do?”

    • Diane Yeldon

      If anything was done that was unlawful, I expect the response would be just to change the law to suit, to take effect retrospectively. Am extremely cynical about private citizens’ rights to information and a fair deal when it comes to dealing with government authority. And any ombudsman etc who is not a docile little lamb is likely to get moved on. And it’s been rapidly getting worse.

  6. Gurglars

    Does this judgement mean that some or indeed many of the answers or lack of them to LGOIMA requests by Bev Butler and Lee Vandervis can and should now be revisited? In particular will we be able to view an unredacted, uncensored report on car theft by DCC employees and others and also the police review of their lack of action in these cases?

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “In particular will we be able to view an unredacted, uncensored report…” Gurglars, whatever you’ve been smoking give it up at once, it’s affected your grasp on reality. See above: Diane (“I expect the response would be just to change the law to suit, to take effect retrospectively”) from Just Say No to Dingleberry Juice still has a powerful grasp.

      • Gurglars

        Hype, my grasp on reality has been well loosened by Calvin’s probably accurate observation that it is too late to stop Agenda 21, at least in Dunedin.

        To have communism not only thrust upon us, but for the idiots who rule us like Bush, Obama and co to actually sanction the concept has definitely upset my view of realities.

        Over time I have seen the decimation of manufacturing (see Hillside), the dumbing down of the population (see decimal currency and kilometres), the rise of overpaid idiots running our council (Harland) and our health services (whoever that is today, particularly the $10k per week to administer a financial department that does not exist), commissioners who have not achieved anything at all not even a plan! Apart from many other soul destroying decisions designed to hand over personal wealth to the government both local and national.

        The next step in this process has been undertaken, steer all banking loans towards housing, inflate the bubble and then crash the price of housing.

        What then for New Zealand citizens?

        No equity, and
        no jobs as services (apart from the public service) will not be required.

        Banks will take over the mortgages and the government through legislation will finish up owning most private property.

        The writing is on the wall, a whole nation if not nations dependent upon government support and therefore in the government’s control.

        No cars allowed, bikes and horses and shanks pony the mode of transport.

        The only question is will the National governments allow the public servants to earn massive salaries to stuff up – I doubt that.

  7. Calvin Oaten

    If there was ever any question about the TPPA negotiations being underhand and corrupt then this judgment says it all. Groser, and by extension the prime minister have been seriously flouting the will of the people and the law by their actions on this whole unsavoury business. Now they are well and truly exposed for the nasty little people they really are.

  8. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Thu, 3 Dec 2015
    Editorial: Safety, trust and transparency
    Transparency and accountability are the hallmarks of democracy. But, even in a democracy, power can corrupt; therefore the job of journalists is to hold those in authority to account, by questioning actions, seeking the rationale behind them, and exposing any abuses of power. […] The Official Information Act is supposed to give the public and journalists the means to obtain information of public interest in a timely manner, and the role of the ombudsman provides a vital backup. There is a slow, steady and insidious eroding of transparency in too many areas, however.
    Read more

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