Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem has done us all a favour with her comments government privacy:
Top-level alarm over secrecy trend
Attempts to keep information confidential highly dangerous, Chief Ombudsman says.
The Ombudsman’s Office has warned of “highly dangerous” moves by the Government to keep information secret by drafting laws to avoid the Official Information Act.
Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem says she is concerned at the increasing number of officials in government agencies who fail to understand the constitutional importance of the legislation.
She pointed to several “reprehensible” attempts in the past year by officials to disallow Official Information Act requests for drafts of legislation, in particular on partial state asset sales, charter schools and changes to mining permits.
“I think it’s the beginning of something that’s highly dangerous,” she told the Herald.
“If this goes on, we will be appearing much more regularly at select committees when these things appear in the form of a bill, and making our views heard loud and clear.” …
The timing really couldn’t be worse for the Nats. Key’s abundant failure to competently manage even a core government agency, the GCSB, is an international scandal. OIA requests were the only way we found out many of the details of the John Banks scandal.
These are the kinds of issue that the government at all levels would much rather keep from mere members of the public. We can’t let them get away with reducing our access to the truth. Thanks to the Ombudsman for this timely reminder.