NRT: We can no longer trust Bill English’s OIA responses

Written By: - Date published: 12:38 pm, August 26th, 2015 - 8 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, bill english - Tags: ,

I/S at No Right Turn writes

We can no longer trust Bill English’s OIA responses

Yesterday in Question Time, Winston Peters accused Finance Minister Bill English of outright lying in the response to an OIA request:

“On December 16, 2014 Mr English replied to a specific New Zealand First OIA request detailing the nature and month, that no documents existed between himself or his staff and Federated Farmers in March 2013.

“We gave the Minister every opportunity because we made a slightly different request for the same documents detailing the nature and month. On August 17 2015 Mr English replied, again saying that no such documents existed.

“However, this was not true.

“On March, 26, 2013 Mr English wrote to Federated Farmers saying there were no plans to establish a foreign land ownership registry. This is attached and came in response to a letter on 13 February 2013 from the then President, Bruce Wills, to establish a register of foreign ownership.

Peters calls this an abuse of the OIA process, and that’s a possibility (and one which would be a criminal offence in the UK and Canada, but not in NZ). But there’s also an alternative explanation: English and his office could be such utter muppets that they either don’t keep records of official correspondence (in violation of thePublic Records Act) or can’t find those records when asked repeatedly to look for them. But whatever the explanation, the clear upshot is that we can simply no longer trust OIA responses from Bill English to be complete and accurate. And that is just unacceptable.

8 comments on “NRT: We can no longer trust Bill English’s OIA responses”

  1. Detrie 1

    This is the new standard set by John Key, who himself has a sordid history of bending the truth and not giving proper accounts in parliament. Serious questions in the house are too often brushed off or turned into a joke or personal attack on the MP. It’s just a nasty game to national and without good journalists (rapidly disappearing) or industry watchdogs, then the public never knows. But the bigger question is, would they even care?

  2. Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 2

    Parliament is becoming a joke and therefore so is democracy with abuses like this from National. Wholesale reform is needed. Something like my ‘neutral ref’ Speaker proposal.

    This being where the Speaker is elected by a unanimous or near unanimous vote in Parliament to ensure the Speaker is not biased. THey can then police such processes as OIA’s, political patronage appointments in the civil service, the publicly funded parts of the media not fulfilling its public service obligations.

    This National attitude of winning at all costs, having no respect for the opposition, for the unspoken rules, believing there is no such thing as ethics, the public good….. is destroying this great country of ours.

    • tc 2.1

      There is no objective public broadcasting in NZ with RNZ and TVNZ under the thumb of relevant ministers and boards/senior management stacked with nat appointments.

      The dumbing down and shift to the right on RNZ with pulpits for the shouty M Hooten and slippery Farrar being examples and as for TVNZ that went awhile back under Rick Ellis.

      They know this that’s why they do it as a half decent MSM would’ve crucified many of them long ago. Can you imagine Bennett surviving in OZ as an MP after admitting she deliberately leaked privvied data as one of many examples.

  3. dukeofurl 3

    Why are NZ First using OIA ?

    As Mps they can ask written questions directly to any Minister, all the parties normally file 100s each month

  4. Mike the Savage One 4

    Not only Bill English and his Office may be “struggling” with the OIA process, they are doing this all over the show, it seems. Whether we may call it “abuse” or too casual handling, it is often hard to prove, as withholding information, or simply not providing it, without even explanations, is not a criminal offence, as is correctly mentioned above.

    New Zealand’s OIA system and the processes in place seem to have become a “joke”, really. And with the only remaining option to involve the Ombudsman, that does often get people nowhere as well. The for years very underfunded Office of the Ombudsmen continues to reorganise and reprioritise their work-load, and in some cases the Ombudsmen simply seem to think, they will not bother investigating, as they have not got the resources.

    So they send people back to the Ministry or department in question to try and sort grievances out, and we know where that may lead. It is becoming a “circus”, this OIA process in New Zealand, and knowing some persons that have tried, I can recommend the posts under the links below (further down in them), for people to read. It shows how bad it has got:
    (Crucial details were simply not provided, with no reasons given, and what was provided, did to some degree make little sense, so the requester had to simply guess, what the figures for SPES and MHES referrals into work meant)
    (only some info was provided, many requests were at first ignored, a bit more was provided after the Ombudsman got involved, but in the end the Ombudsman could not bother doing much himself)

    And at the very end of that second post, we can read how the Ombudsman even refused to take on new complaints from a requester, stating lack of resources and still being busy with existing complaints.

    So much for “transparency” and enforcing the law in a “Mickey Mouse state”, a state that still claims to be democratic and to adhere to the rule of law, it is called New Zealand, I think.

  5. Tracey 5

    It’s funny, for all the criticism of the judiciary in this Country, the Speaker, who is the Judge of Parliamentarians seems to escape any such scrutiny.

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