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Ombudsman's report accepted in full

February 26 2004
Media Statement

Ombudsman's report accepted in full

The Acting Immigration Minister Paul Swain says he accepts in full the report of the Ombudsman into the actions of the Department in regard to an Official Information Act complaint.

"The Ombudsman found there was no evidence to suggest anyone was involved in any agreement to "lie in unison" in respect of media inquiries about Ahmed Zaoui."

On p. 47 of the report, the Ombudsman says "I have not seen or heard any evidence that suggests or indicates that any person or persons, as officials in the NZIS, was involved in any agreement to "lie in unison".

Mr Swain says "the Ombudsman has confirmed the findings of an earlier report of Secretary of Labour, Dr James Buwalda, in respect of internal processes for handling OIA requests. I take seriously the obligations on the public service in respect of the OIA, and I have been assured by Dr Buwalda that these issues are being addressed. I have instructed him to report to me on the implementation of these recommendations by the end of March."

"The Ombudsman is critical of two staff of the Immigration Service. Neither the Ombudsman nor myself are responsible for employment matters within the NZIS. This issue now rests with Dr Buwalda, and I understand that he is addressing disciplinary and performance issues relating to this matter."

"The events in the Ombudsman's report predate my appointment to the portfolios of Labour and Immigration (effective from today), and the appointment of Dr Buwalda as Secretary of Labour. This presents an opportunity for a fresh start."

ENDS

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