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Govt and Ombudsman at odds - Nats


It was revealed today at the Government Administration Select Committee that the Government was breaching its requirements under the Official Information Act.

“The Chief Ombudsman Sir Brian Elwood has expressed major concern to the select committee about the 64 complaints over Official Information requests laid from parliamentary sources since 14 February 2000,” National MP David Carter said today.

“There were only 140 complaints from the Parliamentary system for the whole year to June 1999 – compare that with this Government’s record of 64 in just two weeks.

“This seems to be a clear case of obstruction by the new Government.

“Labour and the Alliance are talking about transparency and accountability in Government on the one hand – and yet on the other – they are refusing to release information or in some cases not even responding on time.

“The Ombudsman is so worried about the high number of complaints, he has warned the Government and Parliament that if they continue at this rate his Office would be unable to cope.

“I asked the Ombudsman was asked what was behind the complaints and whether the reasons were either responses not being completed in time or information being withheld unnecessarily.

“Sir Brian confirmed most of the complaints related to requests not being responded to within 20 working days, or over information being deleted.

“The Official Information Act is there to provide New Zealanders with access to the information behind the decisions of Government – the Ombudsman’s concerns raise real questions over whether this is happening.”

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