New Zealand Labour Party

John Key should be part of OIA inquiry

The Chief Ombudsman’s description of the Prime Minister’s attitude to releasing public information as "cavalier" and "a disregard for the law" reinforces growing concerns that democratic principles are being consistently undermined, Labour’s Open Government spokesperson Clare Curran says.

Labour has today written to Dame Beverley Wakem requesting John Key be interviewed as part of her wide-ranging review of Official Information Act practices across the public sector.

"We also believe the role political advisers in Minister’s offices play by blocking the release of information is a critical part of this inquiry.

"It sends a dangerous message if the Prime Minister shows a disregard for the law. This flows down through his Ministers, advisers and the attitudes of top public servants.

"How can middle ranking public servants respond objectively to OIA requests if their political masters expect them to delay, redact or block it?

"Given John Key’s lack of transparency and regard for the law was called into question last October – when he admitted the Government sometimes delays releasing official information right up to the deadline for political purposes – this inquiry must place emphasis on his words and attitude.

"The Ombudsman has a very important role to keep our Government honest and ensure the public has access to information. There is no other body in New Zealand which can do that.

"Labour supports the proactive release of Cabinet and other papers being made publicly available on a dedicated website," Clare Curran says.