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Govt Shouldn’t Be Making It Any Easier To Withhold Info

7 February 2013

Govt Shouldn’t Be Making It Any Easier To Withhold Info

Today’s findings that the Government must release information it has unjustly withheld shows it should not be making it any easier to withhold information, the Green Party said today.

The final opinion from Ombudsman David McGee on requests made under the Official Information Act (OIA) relating to The Hobbit was made public today. His response outlines the steps that the Ministers’ and the production companies took to avoid disclosure. This comes on the back of Government proposals to reform the OIA.

“This is a Government that doesn’t respect the principle of transparency. It comes through both in the conduct in this instance and in the approach to reforming the OIA,” said Green Party open government spokesperson Holly Walker.

“The final opinion from the Ombudsman reinforces the fact that the Government should not be relaxing the OIA, particularly in regards to commercial interests.

“The Government has identified commercial sensitivity as an important issue for business and one it will progress, including new ways for commercially sensitive information to be withheld.

“It has made it clear that it is putting the interests of business before the public by promoting new commercial protections.

“Any further restrictions in this area will mean that those with a commercial interest could be protected and the public would be left in the dark about who is involved in important Government decisions.

“The public have a right to know how these types of decisions are made and have a stake in how public money is spent.

“If third parties want to do business with the Government, they need to be aware that a greater level of scrutiny comes with the territory.

“Currently the OIA is the only avenue available to the public to access this type of information, so any reform of the OIA must promote greater transparency, not less.”

ENDS

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