Public Service Announcement

11 Jul

It is more and more evident that ICC and affiliates have no clue about the principles behind LGOIMA and the release of information.

So here are a few reminders from the Ombudsman’s office

…in accordance with the purposes of this Act and the principle that the information shall be made
available unless there is good reason for withholding it.” (Emphasis added – by the Office of the Ombudsman)

And why is it necessary?

(a) To increase progressively the availability of official information to the
people of New Zealand in order-
(i) To enable their more effective participation in the making and
administration of laws and policies; and
(ii) To promote the accountability of Ministers of the Crown and
officials,-

It is not about providing it to some and not to others.  When the Southland Times were released the transcript of a community board meeting, it was also sent to community board members with a note that it ‘could not be denied’ (a.k.a free for all).  Nor does ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’ apply with regard to public excluded.  Each request needs to be assessed on it’s own merits.  The Office of the Ombudsman has made up a selection of guides that are helpful to newbies, and the 20+ year veterans.

Anyone running for the upcoming elections should also be fluent in LGOIMA.

Meanwhile, the council watchers, bloggers, or anyone else who exercises their right to be involved in local democracy should appreciate these comments:

The fact that a request is for a large amount of information does not of itself mean that the request lacks due particularity. The term “fishing expedition” appears to have received general recognition in the vocabulary of those concerned with making decisions on requests for information. It should be clearly understood that this term is not recognised in the Act as a withholding reason. If the information requested meets the test of due particularity it cannot be refused simply on the basis that it is considered to be a fishing expedition. The request must be given proper consideration under the Act.

And the ‘powers that be’ should remember that personalities don’t matter neither can the decision to release information be based on whether it will embarrass the organisation or a person involved.

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