Ombudsman probe targets Ministerial integrity

John Key is on notice that the entrenched cynical and manipulative abuse of official information requests by his Government will no longer be tolerated, Labour’s Open Government spokesperson Clare Curran says.

“The announcement by the Ombudsman of a wide-ranging review of Official Information Act practices across the public sector includes all Ministerial offices.

“It will undoubtedly lay bare the widespread and systematic practice of avoidance, delay and lack of accountability to requests for what is public information.

“This is where the rubber hits the road for John Key’s lack of transparency. In October he admitted the Government sometimes delays releasing official information right up to the deadline for political purposes.

“Labour revealed a year ago that most ministers deliberately and systematically wait until the last minute to release information or extend the deadline and then heavily redact documents, requiring a complaint to the Ombudsman which can take months, sometimes more than a year to resolve.

“As a result many issues of high public interest are unable to be addressed because crucial information has not been released.

“Requests are also frequently turned down on the basis they need substantial research and collation, when they don’t.

“John Key’s chickens are now coming home to roost. He, his Ministers and all government departments and agencies involved in the review, must fully comply with the Ombudsman’s review of OIA practices.

“Labour looks forward to working with the Ombudsman through this review to clean up and streamline OIA processes so that all New Zealanders have access to the information they need,” Clare Curran said.