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Time To Consider Bringing PSC Under OIA

27 March 2001

TIME TO CONSIDER BRINGING PARLIAMENTARY SERVICE COMMISSION UNDER OFFICIAL INFORMATION ACT

United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne, says the ongoing furore about MP's entitlements raises the question of extending the coverage of the Official Information Act to include the Parliamentary Service Commission.

Mr Dunne says a lot of the present media speculation is fuelled out of a sense of frustration that the Parliamentary Service Commission is exempt from the Official Information Act.

"The historic reasons for that decision owe much to the need to protect the privacy of individuals."

"However, recent events where the leaking of the private deliberations of the Commission have become almost routine raise doubts about the wisdom and feasibility of continuing with that approach."

"In many senses, in this environment of uncontrolled and selective leaking of critical information the irony is that individuals have less protection than they would have under the Official Information and the Privacy Acts."

"Therefore, it may well be time to look again at extending the coverage of the Official Information Act to include the Parliamentary Service Commission, subject to the application of its standard provisions regarding the protection of individual privacy and official advice, and the provisions of the Privacy Act regarding information held about individuals."

"Clearly, if this was to occur, information held by political parties, and personal constituent files held by Members of Parliament would have to continue to be exempt from the coverage of the Official Information Act, otherwise the system would become unworkable," Mr Dunne says.

Mr Dunne says he will be drafting a Member's Bill to promote this change.

Ends

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