NRT: Abuse of power: The OIA / public records dimension

Written By: - Date published: 4:28 pm, November 25th, 2014 - 13 comments
Categories: law, public services - Tags: , , , , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn

One of the things to emerge from the “dirty politics” report is that the SIS pissed all over the OIA:

The NZSIS also made a significant error in considering information requests by the news media. Such requests were, from 25 July to 5 August, not treated as OIA requests but simply denied.

Meanwhile, they were bending over backwards to accommodate Slater’s request. But despite the fact that they’d gone to the same email address and it was the same staff handling them, the IGIS finds no politicisation; instead the SIS suffered from doublethink, an imagined distinction between “media inquiries” and OIA requests. There is no such distinction. As the law makes clear, any request to a Department, a Minister, or an agency, is legally an OIA request, and has to be answered. And every time a Minister says “no comment” to a duly particular media inquiry about information they hold in their capacity as a Minister, they are breaking the OIA and could become the subject of an Ombudsman’s complaint.

And then there’s this bit:

I issued a production order to Mr Ede in respect of his personal email accounts after it became apparent from evidence, including evidence provided directly by Mr Ede, that some of the correspondence pertinent to this inquiry was conducted from non-official email accounts. Upon receipt of the production order, Mr Ede provided a supplementary written statement to the inquiry in which he advised that the emails had been permanently deleted prior to the commencement of the inquiry and could not be recovered. I made my own enquiries and confirmed this was the case.

The IGIS is primarily concerned about the security implications of this, but there’s another one. Insofar as they deal with official Ministerial business – and if it deals in any way with official information its Ministerial business, as Ministers do not hold such information in their political capacity as MPs – then this appears to violate the Public Records Act, putting Ede on the hook for a $5,000 fine per email. Its small potatoes, but in the absence of a crime of “crimes against democracy”, it will have to do. Meanwhile, we have to wonder how many other Ministerial staff are doing this in an effort to evade the OIA. Its time for the Chief Archivist to do an audit.

13 comments on “NRT: Abuse of power: The OIA / public records dimension”

  1. Tracey 1

    when she says she made her own enquiries to confirm edes emails were indeed gone, what does she mean? his computer was forensically examined. he enlisted someones assistance?

    depends on how many emails. just 10 is 50k worth

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      He was using Gmail accounts, wasn’t he? They’d probably comply with a warrant from the DGiS.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      his computer was forensically examined.

      Probably not as the ghosts of the emails would probably still be on his HDD and, yeah as OAB points out, if he was using a Google account then Google probably has a copy that could be requested via a warrant.

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    So Eade supplied ‘written statement’

    Even Slater says he went to Wellington to be questioned, while Eade only gave a’written statement’

    Whats sort of enquiry is it if he only replies to written questions by written statement.

    They seem to have run rings around the so called coercive powers of enquiry.

    “”I can confirm that all persons summoned will be required to appear under oath. I am adopting this practice in respect of all those whom I interview for the purposes of this inquiry,” said Ms Gwyn.
    She is committed to an “in-depth and robust” inquiry and will use her powers to order production of “significant quantities” of documents and other material to help with the inquiry.
    “The scale of the inquiry is significant. It involves access to a variety of IT systems, documents, phone records and so forth.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/politics/sis-slater-inquiry-witnesses-to-be-under-oath-2014090119#ixzz3K3AK693v

  3. Penny Bright 3

    The Office of the Prime Minister should NOT be dealing with OIA requests – end of story.

    That’s the job of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).

    Try this little exercise for yourselves – try finding the LAW / statute(s) / regulations / protocols / procedures that apply to the Office of the Prime Minister.

    There are NONE.

    The role of the Office of the Prime Minister is to cover John Key’s butt in his capacity as Leader of the National Party.

    Effectively – it’s a nest of viperous spin-doctors, extremely politically partisan, NOT independent, impartial, top level public servants.

    It is the role of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) that is supposed to assist the John Key as Prime Minister in his capacity as Leader of New Zealand.

    The the guts of the problem!

    Simple.

    The SIS should be having NOTHING to do with ANYBODY from the Office of the Prime Minister.

    End of story.

    Perhaps ot would help to stop the confusion if the name of the ‘Office of the Prime Minister’ was changed to the ‘Office of the Leader of the National Party’?

    Because that’s exactly what it is.

    Needs a HUGE sort out …….

    Penny Bright

    • Chooky 3.1

      +100 Penny…very good points!..that is the guts of it…

      “The role of the Office of the Prime Minister is to cover John Key’s butt in his capacity as Leader of the National Party… Effectively – it’s a nest of viperous spin-doctors, extremely politically partisan, NOT independent, impartial, top level public servants…The SIS should be having NOTHING to do with ANYBODY from the Office of the Prime Minister.”.

  4. A job for Graeme McCready – police charges for deleting emails that are public information – $5000 per email

  5. les 5

    politics ‘american style’ …get used to it…yanKey poodle dandy’!

  6. philj 6

    What does this say about our public service Watchdogs? Are they representing the public interest? Is the entire system of democracy NZ poisoned and people disenchanted and disengaged?

  7. It’s quite scary to think about the implications of all those emails in storage somewhere but the authorities are just “glossing over” everything. How are we supposed to have confidence in these people who are supposed to be leading the country if they keep coming up with nonsense like this?!

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