Below is a post from Tracey, showing the result of her OIA requests in response to a published comment from Bill English. English’s quoted statement is a bit odd. Is he claiming to have found a way to reduce the numbers of single NZ women giving birth? Or is it about single women on benefits? It looks like the endless cycle of OIAs and responses will wind the clock down til election day.
Blinglish single handedly reduces teenage pregnancies – by Tracey
On or about 8 June 2014 Mr English attended a data forum. He made the following reported statements
We’re now starting to adopt an investment approach. Where you would say we invest now for income later, we’re saying we invest now for cost reduction later, such as in our sole parents under 20,” English said, referring to how the Government had reduced the number of single mothers under the age of 20 by 2,600 or 40% over the last three years, thus reducing future liabilities by hundreds of millions of dollars.
How does he know the Government has directly impacted the reduction in single mothers under 20 by 2600 through their policies? I decided to ask him directly as well as the Department of Statistics and the Minister and Ministry of Social Development.
On 2 July 2014 I sought the following information from them all;
Please provide detail (no names of course) of where the 2600 single mothers under the age of 20 have gone to enable the minister to state the govt has reduced the number of single mums under 20 by 2600 since 2011. Please include (but not be limited to) a breakdown of
How many in full time work and when
How many in part time work and when
How many in casual work and when
How many adopted their child
How many moved into tertiary or high school study, and how many of those received government assistance including but not limited to student loan and or allowance
How many have moved from the dpb to another benefit, and state what benefit
How many formed a partnership or marriage and rely on their partners income
What was the number of under 20 single mums on benefits for each year from 2002 to date
Please be specific, in relation to the 2600, including references to numbers, how the govt has reduced these numbers.
Given Mr English was so bold in his statement we could assume that the underlying facts were already available to him or his Ministry prior to making the statement?
All sent automated responses.
The MSD wrote on 3 July 2014;
Thank you for your email received 2 July 2014, under the Official Information Act 1982. Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate officials at National office to respond. You may expect a response to be sent to you as soon as possible.
The Department of Statistics were the first to respond in detail on 11 July 2014 and advised me that it was not their area and they had forwarded my request to MSD.
On 17 July 2014 Mr English responded that he got the information from Paula Bennett and she got it from the Ministry for Social Development. He explained he only got it in summary form and did not have the depth of data I requested, so he forwarded my request to MSD.
On 21 July 2014, Ms Bennett’s Private Secretary had received Mr English’s request to transfer to MSD on 17 July 2014 and that MSD would now deal with it.
On 30 July 2014 the MSD sent a response. It should be noted that 30 July 2014 was the 20th working day since I made my request. The Act states a recipient has 20 working days within which they must respond.
Their response requested an extension until 3 September 2014. This means the MSD requires two months to respond to a request for information underpinning a statement they sent to their Minister, who forwarded it to the Minister for Finance and who used it to trumpet the successes of his Government’s policies. It seems odd to me that MSD would be able to prepare a summary for Ms Bennett to give to Mr English to use publically without having material on which to base the summary and which could be forwarded to me? I am essentially asking for the facts that lie beneath the statement.
Why the delay?
The Ministry requires further time to consult with other parties on the release of the information you have requested. These other parties may be affected by the release of the information you have requested and I need to provide them with an opportunity to identify any prejudice which might arise from its release before I make a final decision.
General Manager Ministerial and Executive Services
I have been advised I can complain to the Ombudsmen. My experience is the Ombudsmen will have barely acknowledged my referral before 3 September 2014. I will lodge my objection with them for what it’s worth.
I am interested in how “other parties” could be affected by the release of the information. I have specifically stated that I accept I cannot have the single mother’s names. Who would these other parties be? In what ways could these other parties be prejudiced by the release of the information?