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Chief Ombudsman to investigate Minister’s secret letter

6 August 2019

An official investigation has been launched into Julie Anne Genter’s refusal to release her secret Let’s Get Wellington Moving letter, National MPs Chris Bishop and Nicola Willis say.

“The Associate Transport Minister’s excuses for keeping her letter hidden from the public have worn thin to the point where the Chief Ombudsman is now investigating her conduct,” Mr Bishop says.

“I gave Julie Anne Genter the opportunity to come clean and read the first few paragraphs of her letter in Parliament today, but she doubled-down and thumbed her nose at the public.

“It’s extraordinary that she continues to argue her letter to Transport Minister Phil Twyford, which we believe convinced him to push back construction of Wellington’s second Mt Victoria Tunnel for at least a decade, isn’t in the public interest.

“It took repeated questions and some stern comments from the Speaker of the House for her to even admit it was written on her ministerial letterhead. Getting openness and transparency from this Government is like getting blood out of a stone.”

Ms Willis says she is pleased the Chief Ombudsman has listened to her complaint and will investigate whether the letter can continue to be withheld under the Official Information Act.

“I’m confident the Chief Ombudsman will agree with what Chris Bishop and I have been saying for weeks now; that Wellingtonians deserve to know how much Julie Anne Genter was responsible for pushing back plans for a second Mt Victoria Tunnel to beyond 2030.

“She now claims that because she is a Green MP she isn’t subject to the public disclosure requirements normally faced by Ministers. She is wrong. Her confusion shows an appalling lack of understanding of the public accountability that comes with her Ministerial warrant.

“Obviously she and Phil Twyford have something to hide, otherwise they would have released the letter by now.”


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