You have to hand it to National. They will always bend the rules as far as possible for political advantage.
Labour’s Megan Woods has with the assistance of information gleaned from the FYI site raised questions about how accurate National’s response to OIA requests has been. She has reviewed responses to OIA requests given by the Minister of Justice and has come up with some concerning questions.
New documents obtained by Labour show Judith Collins did not log OIA requests from Cameron Slater that were completed by her office on December 21 2012 and February 12 2013.
“These requests are missing from a list of OIAs fulfilled by the office of Judith Collins from 2012 to 2014 recently compiled by her successor, Justice Minister Amy Adams.
“It has already been revealed the Whale Oil blogger received requested information on David Bain’s compensation bid from the Justice Minister’s office within a staggering 37 minutes and another response relating to this case within five hours.
“These new documents show Cameron Slater refiled one of his requests just a day later with different dates. How did he know his original date was incorrect? Was he tipped off by someone in the minister’s office to change his request?
The release is based on this OIA response which asked for a list of the subjects of requests to the Minister of Justice made under the OIA in the past three years that were not refused. The response is clever in that it has provided information for the past three calendar years and thereby left out the period from September to December 2011. But it appears that at least three requests were not listed by Adams. One wonders why.
The first was sent by Slater to Collins on December 21, 2011 and asked for correspondence from Michael Reed QC, Joe Karam and Michael Guest to the Minister about David Bain. It was sent at 1:27 pm and a response was sent by 6:27 pm on the same day. The email response states:
Since receiving your request, another media outlet has placed a similar OIA request and asked for an expedited response. In the interests of fairness, I am able to partially fulfil your request …
The response also included a letter that Collins had received from Guest that day. The sense of what the interests of fairness requires is touching.
The second request was sent by Slater on February 11, 2012. The specific terms of the request were for:
Copies of correspondence between Mr Ian Binnie and the office of the Minister of Justice including letters, emails, diary notes and file notes in relation to the compensation case of David Cullen Bain since December 2012.
Binnie was the respected Canadian Jurist who recommended that compensation be paid to Bain. It seems that Collins was not happy with his recommendations. This matter is still unresolved.
The documents released contain the handwritten phrase “outside scope”. The accompanying letter stated that the Minister was considering Slater’s request.
Then next day Slater sent in a further request phrased as follows:
Copies of correspondence between Mr Ian Binnie and the office and staff of the Minister of Justice including letters, emails, diary notes and file notes in relation to the compensation case of David Cullen Bain since
December 20121 August 2012.
The response said:
You are fortunate that this office has recently processed a similar OIA so I have information to hand that should satisfy your request.
I have bolded the inclusions and struck through the deletions. You have to wonder why a day after a request for information was made a slightly amended request for information was made. And you have to admire how fortunate Slater was to ask precisely the right question.
There does seem to be an element of preferential treatment here. The list provided suggests that no OIA requests were processed as quickly as Slater’s requests. I know from my own experience that Collins’ responses to OIA requests were less than timely. Same day responses are well beyond my comprehension.
So some questions need to be answered:
It may be that Dirty Politics only scratched the surface …