Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Ministers given licence to delay, cover up


Spokesperson for State Services

26 February 2014           MEDIA STATEMENT
Ministers given licence to delay, cover up

Cabinet Ministers are being given licence to cover up embarrassing news during an election campaign, under guidelines just released by the State Services Commissioner, says Maryan Street, Labour’s State Services spokesperson.

“Iain Rennie’s Guidance for the 2014 Election Period: State Servants, Political Parties, and Elections goes much further than rules applying under previous governments about how state servants should respond to Official Information Act requests just prior to an election.

“Section 2.4 of the 2014 Guidelines, dealing with the Official Information Act, advises government agencies on how to respond to OIA requests if the information sought ‘is particularly sensitive or potentially controversial’.

“The new guide gives the Minister more power to meddle in the handling of any OIA request than they had under the previous Labour government. It also advises state servants to consider extending the timeframe for responding to an OIA request.

“The provision to extend the timeframe was first suggested by Mr Rennie in the 2011 guidelines but has been given more blanket application in this version. It did not exist at all in the 2008 guidelines. The 20 day limit for responding to OIA requests should not be a target; it should be a maximum allowed.

“This is a licence for fudging, delay and cover up.

“The election period is a crucial time for the swift release of information in order to keep voters and the media well informed.

“These guidelines, which come with a video about politics and the workplace, say that if any sensitive or controversial material is to be released, the Minister must be consulted and may take over the OIA request.

“Given this government’s record in bullying state servants, even very senior ones, I have no confidence that they will allow state servants to carry out their responsibilities to the public impartially and in a neutral fashion under these guidelines,” said Maryan Street.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Relevant Consents Gained: Government Unveils RMA Reform Package

The government has formally hauled down the flag on its attempts to alter the balance of environmental and economic priorities in the Resource Management Act, unveiling a 180-page Resource Legislation Amendment Bill containing reforms that have been largely endorsed by most political parties. More>>


Closing Schools And Such: Interim Redcliffs Decision Announced

“While the school’s board has argued that circumstances that could give rise to potential disruption are extremely unlikely, advice from technical experts has shown these concerns cannot be ruled out." More>>


Jane Kelsey: High Court Can’t Make Groser Provide TPPA Information Faster

‘This week we went back to court to challenge Trade Minister Groser’s stalling tactics over the release of information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, following a High Court order that he reconsider the Official Information Act request I made last January’, said University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, first applicant in the case. More>>

Werewolf 58: No Climate For Change

The last time the global community tried to take collective action on climate change the world’s leaders finally came to agree that every not-too-onerous effort should be made to hold global warming to 2°C above the pre-industrial average. At Paris, all 150 participant countries nations will have put forward their pledges... On the information available, New Zealand's is the second weakest contribution of any nation in the developed world. More>>


Lambton Quay Shutdown: Object Was Made To Look Like Bomb

Police cordoned off part of Lambton Quay Wednesday afternoon, saying that a suspicious package had been found. Buildings were evacuated and buses were detoured. The army’s explosive ordnance disposal unit was brought to the Quay. More>>


Public Sector Still Shrinking: Record Low Number Of 'Backroom Bureaucrats'

Ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services has seen a further reduction in the number of core Government employees, State Services Minister Paula Bennett says. More>>


Disobeying The Law: Police Censorship Of Crime Research “An Outrage”

The Green Party is calling on Police Minister Michael Woodhouse to ensure Police scrap controversial contracts that place onerous restrictions on academic researchers’ access to Police data, the Green Party says. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news