Fisher on the OIA arms race

Written By: - Date published: 11:26 am, October 23rd, 2014 - 27 comments
Categories: accountability, journalism, Media - Tags: ,

Over at Public Address, Herald reporter David Fisher has written a long and fascinating piece on his experiences in getting access to public information. Short form – NZ has over the last 25 years gone from a good place to a very bad place indeed. A couple of extracts below, but go read the whole thing on Public Address


David Fisher: The OIA arms race

At the moment, there is an inquiry underway into whether a blogger gained some advantage in receiving information from the SIS for political purposes. There are also allegations of preferential treatment over the OIA involving the same blogger and the former Justice Minister.

The police are also facing allegations of trying to cover up juked stats by burying an OIA. And a former Customs lawyer has said his organisation preferred to let requests languish in the Ombudsman’s office than dealing with them.

In the 25 years I have worked as a journalist, there have never been so many questions, or such a loss of faith, all at once.

The shift really began after the 2005 election, when Helen Clark’s third term threatened to get away from her. I believe what happened then perverted all that has come since, when it comes to media and the public service.

The “no surprises” policy had been a feature of coalition agreements since 1996, and part of the SOE model. … But before long, it crept out of SOEs and political agreements and spread its grip through the public service.

There are far darker, grimmer views out there than mine. Simply, we don’t trust you. By commission or ommission, we think many of those who handle our OIA requests don’t have the public interest at heart. We don’t trust the responses we get.

Of course, we may be completely wrong. We may have made a terrible mistake. But how would we know otherwise? You don’t talk to us anymore. You’re too scared to. Caught between the Beehive and the media, you don’t know which to face.

27 comments on “Fisher on the OIA arms race”

  1. Tracey 1

    hooton admits deliberately breaching the law. key too. that hoots was ever in a position to so is sobering.

    I dont care who is in govt. the oia is a safeguard for democracy. anyone flouting it for political ends does not care for democracy

    noted that fisher did not have this published by the herald?

    • tc 1.1

      admission is easy when you’re confident there are no consequences.

      • Tracey 1.1.1

        yup and it makes those who routinely behave in their own lives with no ethics feel better about themselves when such a likeable ordinary bloke like key does it too.

    • CnrJoe 1.2

      ‘sobering’ Tracey?
      Remember Hooton was on 3-4 bottles of red wine a day up until a couple of weeks before the 2014 general election, I can imagine he’s broken a whole lot of things over the years 😉

      [lprent: It is rather irrelevant for this post. I strongly suggest you put a cork in it. We all know where that kind of statement leads too.. ]

      • Tiger Mountain 1.2.1

        In publicly declaring his relationship with alcohol Hooton has done a difficult and if others experience is anything to go by, potentially foolhardy thing. If you want to give something up don’t tell the whole world because they will only applaud if you take up the ciggies, go powder or sauce again.

        But anyone that gets beyond denial and tries to make changes deserves some support not snide remarks whatever their politics. Apart from Judith Collins of course in Twitter rehab.

        • wekarawshark 1.2.1.1

          +1

          enough with the addict intolerances and prejudices please.

          • adam 1.2.1.1.1

            But balance that with being firm with Matthew at the same time – we do him no favours by encouraging him into old habits. He will slip back into the bottle if he keeps playing political games. From what I’ve heard from him, he needs a major lifestyle change. I wish him the best of luck stopping, but, I would encourage him to look after himself, and change what he does for a living.

            • wekarawshark 1.2.1.1.1.1

              it’s really none of our business what Hooton does with his drinking. If you think it is our business, then please explain why say Slater shouldn’t take an interest in my drinking. See where this goes?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Matthew has reached out to this community on many occasions: his personal life isn’t our business it’s our solidarity with our fellow citizens without fear or favour.

                I want better wingnuts – how is failure to acknowledge brother Hooton’s cries for help going to achieve that?

                • wekarawshark

                  🙄

                  My objection is to people presuming they know shit about someone’s addiction just because it’s been mentioned online. And to people using someone’s addiction against them. If it’s ok for lefties to do that to Hooton, then it legitimises Slater doing it to lefties.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Yes, people will use it against him: part of that is abominable and part of it is pragmatic.

                    His arguments are valuable more for what they reveal than what they say, and I wish what part of his brain can still think independently well all the same.

              • karol

                Or an interest in my non-drinking. As someone who is teetotal, I am very aware of the way consumption of alcohol is seen as the norm for social occasions, and often as the defining feature of such occasions.

                Some people apply all sorts of pressures to get me to take just one drink for the occasion. It must make life extra difficult for anyone who had to struggle to give up booze, when some people are pretty insensitive.

                I’m with weka on not using a decision to abstain a means of attacking a person, whether I agree with that person’s politics or not.

                • wekarawshark

                  people still do taht pressure thing? Shit, that’s bad.

                  It’s not like we don’t have enough material from Hooton to take him to task over either.

                  We have no way of knowing if someone’s drinking affects their work. Some addicts are high functioning. Using the addiction as stick hurts all addicts. Pretty much the same as other prejudices really.

                  • karol

                    Well, I haven’t had that sort of pressure for a while, but I have no way of knowing if that’s because I’m older.

                    Yep. Focusing on someone’s addiction is not a useful line of attack.

        • Tracey 1.2.1.2

          my use of sobering was not a play on words.

          I have no time for hooton and if he genuinely is fighting an addiction rather than it being part of some strategy good luck to him.

          may it make him a generous honest and compassionate human who no longer behaves badly cos its in his dna

          • CnrJoe 1.2.1.2.1

            all very well. I personally believe it was a ‘play’. It gave him and the P.M (or his office, or his cat) a diversionary line of conflict, some ‘distance?’.
            He claimed this addiction on twitter and elsewhere and yet the whole time was playing the high-octane election and Dirty Politics post-publication fall-out at a million miles and hour. Exceltium, television, radio, columns, twitter, blogs parenting, consulting, soooo busy busy……and a rather massive alcohol intake? Yeah, Right.
            Yes LPrent, I’ll ‘leave it out’ but I don’t really know how the man lies straight in bed.
            Apologies for threadjack or whatever. ‘Fomenting merry mischief’ or somesuch defence.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.3

      noted that fisher did not have this published by the herald?

      Russell Brown (in comments):

      Tim Murphy was actually the first to retweet the link to yesterday’s post, where I mentioned this speech, and I asked him if the Herald would run it, or whether I could. He kindly suggested we both could, so a shorter version may yet turn up on the Herald website.

  2. Wayne 2

    New Zealand has gone “to a very bad place indeed.”

    Seriously, you need to connect back to reality. Just about every international measure places New Zealand near to the top.

    So if we are a “very bad place indeed”, the rest of world must be a total disaster.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      So, you think relative comparisons are ok.

      Fisher makes a relative comparison using not national boundaries, but a timeline as his comparative method.

      To put it another way, he’s saying we once set a higher benchmark. I’m afraid your argument is just another “he did it too”, Dr. Mapp.

      Edit: I note “loss of trust” is (yet) another symptom of increased inequality. Slow clap.

    • Anne 2.2

      Just about every international measure places New Zealand near to the top.

      That was before “Dirty Politics”. Goodness know where NZ would end up after a Royal Commission of Inquiry. John Key knows, which is why he won’t agree to such an inquiry eh?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1

        The establishment knows, which is (one reason) he no longer has sole charge of the security services. Loose lips sink ships, and Key leaks like an incontinent weasel. Not as Pry Minister, obviously. That would be wrong 🙄

      • Wayne 2.2.2

        Anne,

        You grossly over estimate the effect that “Dirty Politics” will have on our international reputation. It will have about the same effect as it did on the average New Zealand voter.

        • vto 2.2.2.1

          Wayne, you are being too clever – and failing.

          It is clear, as OAB says, that Fisher was referring to a timeline comparison i.e. NZ today is in a “very bad place” compared to 25 years ago.

          It was clear wasn’t it wayne.

          You just ignored that major component of the post in order to support your own political affiliations.

          so see through ….

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.2.2

          That’s a lovely shiny benchmark you have there Dr. Mapp. Did you polish it yourself?

    • wekarawshark 2.3

      “Just about every international measure places New Zealand near to the top.”

      What, like our youth suicide stats?

  3. Tracey 3

    Please find attached a letter advising of need to transfer your request to the Minister of Social Development for response. We apologise for the delay in transferring your request and are working with the Minister’s office to try and prevent this late transfer from unduly delaying your response.

    Regards

    I made the following oia request on 22 october 2014

    Sent: Wednesday, 22 October 2014 11:07 a.m. To: OIA_Requests (MSD) Subject: RE: Response to Your Official Information Act request – Unemployment statistics

    Please provide as a matter of urgency pursuant to the OIA the “research” MS Bennett was relying on when she stated

    ““research had shown there were “touchpoints” for people going from work back onto a benefit -at six months and again at 12-14 months.”” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm? c_id=1&objectid=11326254

    As this document will be readily accessible, as she has already referred to it, I expect to receive it as soon as reasonably practicable, and not on the 20 th working day.

    i received an acknowledgement as shown…

    “Thank you for your email received 22 October 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.

    Regards

    Official and Parliamentary Information team | Ministerial and Executive Services

    Ministry of Social Development”

    Today i received this

    “.Please find attached a letter advising of need to transfer your request to the Minister of Social Development for response. We apologise for the delay in transferring your request and are working with the Minister’s office to try and prevent this late transfer from unduly delaying your response.

    Regards

    Official and Parliamentary Information team | Ministerial and Executive Services

    Ministry of Social Development

    Our Purpose: We help New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and independent Ko ta mātou he whakamana tangata kia tū haumaru, kia tū kaha, kia tū motuhake …”

    i have forwarded my progress to the ombudsmen.

    this is our open and transparent government in action.

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    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago

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