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What took us so long?

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Great news that NZ has decided to join up to the Open Government Partnership, an international effort to increase government transparency.
It’s a bit odd that our PM made this announcement as a sort of a postscript to a press release about his chummy meeting with UK PM David Cameron - and essentially described our decision […]

The Official Information Act: should it be reformed?

Friday, January 25th, 2013

It was the great philosopher T’pau, I think, who said: “Don’t push too far, your dreams are china in your hands.” I sometimes feel that way about our Official Information Act.
It’s easy to dream of improvements. Requesters would like to see an end to game-playing when they make politically sensitive requests. They’d like the […]

We don’t need no stinking press regulation

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The Herald’s lawyer, Alan Ringwood, argues that we don’t need any statutory press regulation in NZ. Don’t listen to Levenson, he says. We don’t need to go there. (Full article here).
I guess it’s not a news flash that the Herald’s lawyer would oppose statutory restrictions on the Herald. But I’m interested in his argument. It’s […]

Breaking the Banks

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

We’ve now seen John Banks’ attempt to convince the police not to release (under the Official Information Act) information about him from their investigation into his alleged breaches of electoral law. His lawyer makes some very interesting arguments. Release would trigger “irresponsible commentary” from Banks’ “political adversaries”. It would “bring the criminal justice system into […]

Should the Treasury asset-sales advice have been released?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

The Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem says no. OIA expert John Edwards isn’t so sure. He provides a thorough and thoughtful analysis of her decision here.
Under the OIA, you’re entitled to see almost any information held by the government just by asking for it. To withhold information, the government must point to one of the specific exceptions […]

NZ tops OIA study

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

A new international study ranks NZ number one for freedom of information. Countries around the world were sent information requests relating to their budgets. We passed with flying colours. A depressing number of other countries flunked.

The personal touch

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

The US Supreme Court might have decided that corporations have speech rights, but it has just ruled that (in the context of freedom of information, anyway) they don’t have privacy rights.
Under the US federal Freedom of Information Act, information can be withheld if its disclosure “could reasonably be expected to consistitute an unwarranted invasion of […]

OIA-rony

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The Independent Police Conduct Commissioner has criticised the police for releasing files relating to the charges against Tony Veitch that he didn’t plead guilty to.
She found that the police should have kept their promise to contact Veitch before releasing the 358 documents. And, in fact, they shouldn’t have released the documents at all. The police’s […]

Three cheers for the OIA and one for the government

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I’m not sure whether the government’s document dump about the BMWs came as a result of an Official Information Act request. (If it wasn’t, then someone should put in an OIA request just in case the government has decided to hold anything back. That’s what the Labour government did in its Corngate document release).
Either way, though, the documents […]

Wikileaks: the big question

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

In all of the controversy about Wikileaks, one central question seems to remain unresolved: how should we pronounce “Assange”? Is it “an” as in ”dance” or “blancmange” or “flange”? [Update: these sites suggest that the first is correct].
The main lesson of the Wikileaks saga for me is that we should be skeptical of government assertions that the revelation […]

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