web analytics

Court’s decision on TPP OIA has both Nats and Ombudsman squirming

Written By: - Date published: 10:44 am, October 15th, 2015 - 23 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, law - Tags: , , , , , , ,

As recently covered here, the High Court has upheld Jane Kelsey’s application for a declaration that the Government and Tim Groser improperly considered her application for information concerning the TPPA negotiations.

The Nats aren’t happy:

Govt considers TPP OIA appeal

The government is considering whether to appeal against a court decision finding Trade Minister Tim Groser acted unlawfully in the way he rejected requests for information about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

Green Party MP Russel Norman said he hoped the court decision would mean an end to the National-led government’s abuse of the OIA.

“John Key’s statement suggests that the ministers in his government routinely are in breach of the Official Information Act.

“Really that’s no surprise when the Prime Minister himself advised public servants and ministers to routinely break the act when he said ‘we delay stuff as long as we can’ when the act is absolutely clear that the government should release information as soon as possible.”

The Ombudsman isn’t happy either – how’s this for defensive:

Chief Ombudsman’s statement on High Court TPPA Decision

The High Court’s decision released today requiring the Minister of Trade to reconsider his decision relating to Professor Jane Kelsey’s request for information about the TPPA relates only to the decision making process followed by the Minister.

Any suggestion that the Court passed judgement on the merits of the Chief Ombudsman’s decision is incorrect.

Mmmmmkay.

Both Nats and Ombudsman would be well advised to take three deep breaths, and read this typically excellent piece by Prof. Andrew Geddis:

Comes the rule with no exception

Jane Kelsey’s court victory over the evil MFAT/Tim Groser empire is probably too little, too late for her campaign against the TPPA. But it sends some important messages to a range of public actors in New Zealand’s governing arrangements.

The problem with this [Groser’s] approach is that it runs completely counter to the OIA’s basic purpose – to make any and all information available unless one of the specific reasons in the legislation applies. For the information holder to decide that it won’t provide information without actually looking at it and considering if there is a valid statutory reason for refusing its release inverts the way the OIA is supposed to work.

Furthermore, the OIA has provisions within it to deal with requests for large amounts of information. If it would take a long time to go through the material and decide on its release, the agency holding the information can extend the time limits contained in the OIA. And if it would be very costly to comply with the request, then a “reasonable” charge can be levied for doing so.

However, MFAT/Tim Groser didn’t give any consideration to these options before issuing their blanket refusal. Which means that they didn’t comply with what the legislation requires, making the decision unlawful. And so Justice Collins told them to go away and make the decision again, this time after doing what the OIA says. …

That’s pretty definitive. And just for the Ombudsman:

The third audience for this judgment is the Ombudsman’s office, and the Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem in particular. Because it is fair to say that she does not come out of the judgment all that well. Not only does Justice Collins find that she apparently misunderstands how a quite key legal test under the OIA is meant to apply (at para. [139]), but her failure to pick up MFAT/Tim Groser’s ignoring of proper process is quite concerning.

After all, the Ombudsman is meant to be the primary check on those who hold official information failing to abide by their legal obligations. If that office is not noticing those failures – if it is basically waving through decisions that fail to comply with the OIA – then what is a citizen to do?

Prof. Jane Kelsey showed us one option a citizen can pursue – the courts. But not everyone has the skills, resources and determination to do it. Better that the system just works as it should – as the High Court has just reminded those in power.

23 comments on “Court’s decision on TPP OIA has both Nats and Ombudsman squirming ”

  1. dukeofurl 1

    Who will rid me of this turbulent OIA priest ?

    Cant see to find the Ombusman office decision online which declined to back Kelsey up.

  2. To these modern day politicians, the process of democracy is just a nuisance.

    This shows how easy it would be for a country to slip into a dictatorship if the correct procedures are not followed.

    Thank goodness for the likes of Prof Jane Kelsey.

  3. Tracey 3

    This is an example of where the appointment of the Ombudsmen is VERY important. Oversight of the Ombudsmen is crucial and so is RESOURCING of the office. If you are not a professor of law or a wealthy person you have to sit back and watch months (and sometimes years) pass before the O’s office can get to you. Government departments know this and, in my experience, abuse it by defaulting to refusal knowing how long followup will take.

    Nats will appeal so it goes beyond the 30 days when all information of the agreement will be released BUT something tells me they dont want their cost/benefit analysis released until they absolutely have to. Which is odd given how sure they are the deal is “good” for NZ

  4. Tracey 4

    This was a judicial review type process. The Court, as far as I can tell, has not said Groser should have released the information, it has said he and his office wilfully ignored the proper process to following in reaching the decision to not release. Hence it is sent back to be decided by following the correct process.

    No need to appeal surely, just go through the correct process this time and your original decision will be justified, right Timmy?

  5. With the help of https://www.fyi.org.nz I have filed a request for information from Mr Groser regarding the effects of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement on New Zealanders human rights and our obligations in this regard overseas. I got a nice long detailed answer that did everything BUT answer my questions.

    Trying again. Complaining to the Ombudsman is on the cards if this does not work out.

    • Ilicit 6.1

      Good luck, seems the government finds all sorts of spin (on any subject) instead of a proper response.

      And given the irresponsibility of the OIA Ombudsman, a political appointee, I don’t hold high hopes for your challenge.

    • Mike the Savage One 6.2

      I would not pin that much hope in the present Ombudsman, she is also going to be replaced soon, her age is well over the age an Ombudsman is meant to have while serving, she must retire a.s.a.p..

      • Tracey 6.2.1

        ALL Ombudsmen have been hamstrung by a pitiful lack of resources arising from a cynical use of the system/process by Departments of our Government and their bosses.

  6. Mike the Savage One 7

    Yep, both Ombudsmen we have are not that great at all, despite of the odd decisions that some have celebrated in the past. Ron Paterson seems to be rather soft on medical practitioners and also some state agencies when it comes to complaints about these, OIA related or otherwise. Beverley Wakem has made some appalling decisions, as I can gather, having read a few. She seems to be letting government agencies off too often, giving them more credit than any genuine complainant.

    It is time for a real shake-up in this area.

    If the government wants to appeal the court decision, then we can interpret this as a further attempt to cover up their breaches of the spirit and the law of the OIA.

  7. Tory 8

    “Little takes the ball, he dribbles through the opposition like they were not there, his speed and timing are amazing to watch. He approaches the goal and shoots, it’s a ripper and the crowd roars!, right into the far right of the net, goal keeper Kelsey was powerless to stop that shot. Suddenly the crowd goes quiet, bigger, an own goal…”

  8. KJT 9

    I await with breathless anticipation police charges for breaking the law.
    Or any admission of personal responsibility, from, the party of “personal responsibility”.

    • The lost sheep 9.1

      You will wait a long time KJT, as no one can be charged with ‘breaking the law’ under the OIA, nor are there any sanctions for failing to comply with it – apart from the requirement to go back and have another crack at doing it properly.

      • McFlock 9.1.1

        and, of course, the government’s complete lack of integrity and their constant refusal to take personal responsibility for their incompetence.

      • tracey 9.1.2

        True enough

        but

        note something the Judge said…

        The Act (OIA)
        ‘plays a significant role in New Zealand’s constitutional and democratic arrangements. It is essential the Act’s meaning and purpose is fully honoured by those required to consider the release of official information… The orders I have made reinforce to the Minister and other decision-makers the importance of discharging their responsibilities under the Act and promote future compliance’.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1.2.1

          What are the sanctions available to the courts if Groser (or some other compromised trougher) embodies everything the National Party represents by continuing down his illegal path?

      • Craig H 9.1.3

        True, but the law can be enforced by a court order, and if that’s not complied with, Contempt of Court is on the table.

  9. KJT 10

    Pity. Responsibility obviously does not apply in Government.

  10. KJT 11

    If we could hold politicians to the same professional standard as builders, for example, we could charge them with serial child abuse for the 300 000 children they have neglected.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      Considering that this governments policies have likely resulted in increased suicide we should probably be charging them with murder. Life sentences for the entire government.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • The Ahuriri Hapū Claims Settlement Bill passes Third Reading – Pānuitanga Tuatoru o te Pire ...
    Kua pahure te Pire Whakataunga Kerēme a ngā Hapū o Ahuriri i tōna pānuitanga tuatoru i te pāremata - he pae nunui i te hātepe whakataunga Tiriti o Waitangi hītori mō ngā Hapū o Ahuriri. “Ko te pae whakahirahira nei te tohu o te tīmatanga hou mō te whakahoanga i ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Launch of Te Aorerekura – the national strategy for the elimination of family violence and sex...
    Tēnā tātou katoa Kei a koutou e Te Ātiawa, koutou e kaha tiaki nei, koutou e mau tonu nei ki te mana o tēnei o ngā whenua taurikura, tēnā koutou e te manawhenua, e Te Ātiawa. Kaha tautoko ana ahau i ngā kōrero kua kōrerotia, e ngā mihi kua mihia, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • A guiding star sets a new path for the elimination of family violence and sexual violence
    Today the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Marama Davidson joined tangata whenua and sector representatives to launch Te Aorerekura, the country’s first National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence. “Te Aorerekura sets a collective ambition to create peaceful homes where children, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • NZ secures new Pfizer COVID-19 medicine
    New Zealand has secured supplies of another medicine to treat COVID-19, Health Minister Andrew Little announced today. “In October, New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to make an advance purchase of a promising new antiviral drug, molnupiravir,” Andrew Little said. “Today I am pleased to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Strong Pipeline for Construction Sector
    Strong pipeline ahead for the construction sector Infrastructure activity forecast to reach $11.2 billion in 2026 Construction sector now the fourth biggest employer with more than 280 000 people working in the industry Residential construction the largest contributor to national construction activity. Minister for Building and Construction Poto Williams says ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Regenerative agriculture research receives Government boost
    The Government continues to invest in farm sustainability, this time backing two new research projects to investigate the impacts of regenerative farming practices, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. Soil health and regenerative agriculture “We’re contributing $2.8 million to a $3.85 million five-year project with co-investment by Synlait Milk and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • David McLean appointed as KiwiRail chair
    David McLean has been appointed as Chair of KiwiRail Holdings Ltd, the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Dr David Clark and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson announced today. “Minister Clark and I are confident that David’s extensive business knowledge and leadership experience, including his time as former Chief Executive and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Ambassador to Turkey announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Zoe Coulson-Sinclair as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Turkey. “Aotearoa New Zealand and Turkey’s relationship is one of mutual respect and underpinned by our shared Gallipoli experience,” Nanaia Mahuta said. “Turkey is also a generous ANZAC Day host and has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Announcement of new Consul-General in Guangzhou
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Rachel Crump as New Zealand’s next Consul-General in Guangzhou, China. “China is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most significant relationships – it is our largest trading partner, and an influential regional and global actor,” Nanaia Mahuta said. “As the capital of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities
    The Government joins the disabled community of Aotearoa New Zealand in marking and celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Minister for Disabilty Issues Carmel Sepuloni said. The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Deputy Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, and Advisory panel member appointed
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the appointments of Graeme Speden as the Deputy Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, and Ben Bateman as a member of the Inspector-General’s Advisory Panel.  “These are significant roles that assist the Inspector-General with independent oversight of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies,” Jacinda Ardern said. “While ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Five million COVID-19 tests processed
    Associate Minister of Health, Dr Ayesha Verrall has congratulated testing teams right around New Zealand for reaching the five million tests milestone. Today, an additional 31,780 tests were processed, taking the total since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 to 5,005,959. “This really is an incredible and sustained team ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Funding for extra ICU capacity
    Care for the sickest New Zealanders is getting a major boost from the Government, with plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on expanding intensive care-type services, Health Minister Andrew Little announced today. “Through good planning, we have avoided what the COVID-19 pandemic has done in some countries, where ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • “THE LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF NEW ZEALAND’S FIGHT AGAINST COVID.”
    Speech to the New Zealand Centre for Public Law Tēnā koutou katoa Thank you for providing this opportunity to speak with you today as Attorney General. I’m here to talk about the constitutional consequences of Covid -19. I love the law. The way it exists with the consent of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • The legal and constitutional implications of New Zealand’s fight against COVID
    Speech to the New Zealand Centre for Public Law Tēnā koutou katoa Thank you for providing this opportunity to speak with you today as Attorney General. I’m here to talk about the constitutional consequences of Covid -19. I love the law. The way it exists with the consent of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Pharmac Review interim report released
    Health Minister Andrew Little has released an interim report by an independent panel reviewing the national pharmaceuticals-buying agency Pharmac. Pharmac was established in 1993 and is responsible for purchasing publicly funded medicines for New Zealanders, including those prescribed by GPs or administered in hospitals. The review, chaired by former Consumer ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Appointment to Network for Learning board
    Former MP Clare Curran has been appointed to the board of Crown company Network for Learning (N4L), Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. Hon Clare Curran served as a Member of Parliament for Dunedin South from 2008-2010. During this time, she held a number of ministerial portfolios including Broadcasting, Communications and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Putting home ownership within reach of Pacific Aotearoa
    Pacific community groups and organisations will get tools to help them achieve home ownership with the implementation of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Pacific Housing Initiative, said Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio. In July 2021, MPP launched the Pacific Community Housing Provider Registration Support programme and the Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Coastal shipping will help keep New Zealand’s supply chain buoyant
    Transport Minister Michael Wood today welcomed the release of the Coastal Shipping Investment Approach State-of-Play report as an important step towards a more sustainable coastal shipping sector, which will further diversify New Zealand’s supply chain. “This Government is committed to strengthening our domestic supply chain by making coastal shipping a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Response to Human Rights Commission's reports into violence towards disable people
    Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.   Thank you for that introduction Hemi and thank you for inviting me to respond on behalf of Government to the release of these two important reports (Whakamanahia Te Tiriti, Whakahaumarutia te Tangata -Honour the Treaty, Protect the Person and Whakamahia te Tūkino kore ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Law change strengthens petroleum decommissioning regulation
    Petroleum permit and licence holders operating in New Zealand will now have an explicit statutory requirement to carry out and fund the decommissioning of oil and gas fields after a new law was given Royal assent today, says Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods. Once in effect The Crown ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand Response to assist peace and stability in Solomon Islands
    The New Zealand government has announced that it will deploy Defence Force and Police personnel to Honiara to help restore peace and stability. “New Zealand is committed to its responsibilities and playing its part in upholding regional security,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.  “We are deeply concerned by the recent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Continued growth in volume of new home consents
    In the year ended October 2021, 47,715 new homes were consented, up 26 per cent from the October 2020 year. In October 2021, 4,043 new dwellings were consented Canterbury’s new homes consented numbers rose 31% to higher than post-earthquake peak. New home consents continue to reach remarkable levels of growth, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Saddle up for summer with cycle trail funding
    New investment will keep the best of New Zealand’s cycle trails in top condition as regions prepare to welcome back Kiwi visitors over summer and international tourists from next year. “Cycle tourism is one of the most popular ways to see the country ‘off the beaten track’ but the trails ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand provides additional funding to COVAX for vaccine delivery
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced additional funding will be provided to COVAX to support vaccine delivery in developing countries. “New Zealand remains cognisant of the dangers of COVID-19, especially as new variants continue to emerge. No one is safe from this virus until we all are and this ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • COVID-19 Community fund providing support for 160 organisations focused on women and girls
    Minister for Women Jan Tinetti today announced financial support will be allocated to the 160 successful applicants for the COVID-19 Community Fund, to support organisations helping women/wāhine and girls/kōtiro in Aotearoa New Zealand affected by the pandemic. “COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on women around the world including in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government delivers reactivation package as Aucklanders reconnect for summer
    A new support package will help revive economic, social and cultural activities in our largest city over summer, and ensure those in hardship also get relief. The Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni and the Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash have announced a Reactivating Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Mobile services and broadband come to Chatham Islands for first time
    World class mobile and broadband services have been switched on for the 663 residents of the Chatham Islands, Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark and Minister for Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash announced today. “This eagerly awaited network will provide fast broadband and mobile services to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Crown accounts reflect strong economy amid pandemic
    The Government’s financial accounts continue to reflect an economy that has performed better than expected, despite the latest Delta COVID-19 outbreak. The Crown accounts for the four months to the end of October factors in the improved starting position for the new financial year. Core Crown tax revenue was $2.5 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Applications open for new 2021 Resident Visa
    The first round of applications for New Zealand’s new 2021 Resident visa open today (6am). “This one-off pathway provides certainty for a great many migrant families who have faced disruption because of COVID-19 and it will help retain the skills New Zealand businesses need to support the economic recovery,” Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • More Vietnam Veterans to receive compensation for Agent Orange Exposure
    Minister for Veterans, the Hon Meka Whaitiri announced today that two new conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure have been added to the Prescribed Conditions List. Under the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Crown and representatives of Vietnam veterans and the Royal New Zealand RSA. Vietnam veterans in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government commits to international effort to ban and regulate killer robots
    Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control Phil Twyford announced today that New Zealand will push for new international law to ban and regulate autonomous weapons systems (AWS), which once activated can select and engage targets without further human intervention. “While the evidence suggests fully autonomous weapons systems are not yet ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New freedom camping rules – right vehicle, right place
    Tougher freedom camping laws will be introduced to prevent abuse which has placed an unfair burden on small communities and damaged our reputation as a high quality visitor destination. Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has confirmed that new legislation will be introduced to Parliament following an extensive round of public consultation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government invests to support a classic Kiwi summer
    Vaccinated New Zealanders can look forward to Kiwi summer events with confidence, while artists and crew will have more certainty, following the launch of details of the Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni announced today. “The Government recognises that the arts and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Grace period for expired driver licences cruises into 2022
    Due to the ongoing Delta outbreak and extended lockdowns, all New Zealand driver licences and licence endorsements that expired on or after 21 July 2021 will now be valid until 31 May 2022, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today. “This further extension to the validity of driver licenses recognises that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Delivered: 1,000 extra transitional homes
    A further 1,000 transitional homes delivered  New housing development starts in Flaxmere, Hastings  The Government has delivered the next 1,000 transitional housing places it promised, as part of its work to reduce homelessness. Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods is marking the milestone in Hastings at a new development that includes ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Traffic light levels announced
    The levels at which different parts of New Zealand will move forward into the COVID-19 Protection Framework this Friday have been announced. Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts will move in at Red The rest of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Financial support to move to traffic light system
    A new transition payment will be made available particularly for affected businesses in Auckland, Waikato and Northland to acknowledge the restrictions they have faced under the higher Alert Levels. Transition payment of up to $24,000 as businesses move into traffic light system Leave Support Scheme and Short Term Absence Payment ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Ambassador to Russia announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Sarah Walsh as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Russia. “Aotearoa New Zealand and Russia have a long-standing relationship, engaging on a range of regional and global interests including disarmament and Antarctica issues. We also work together as members of the East ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Permanent Representative to the UN announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Carolyn Schwalger as Permanent Representative to the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. “Aotearoa New Zealand is a founding member of the UN and we have worked hard to ensure our stance on human rights, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago