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Ministers Failing To Meet OIA Requirements

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Gerry Brownlee
Gerry Brownlee

Wellington, Aug 31 NZPA - Nearly all ministers fail to supply information requested under the Official Information Act (OIA) in the required time, a study by a blogsite has found.

Idiot/Savant of No Right Turn, a left-wing blogsite, gathered information using the Act over the past three months on how requests for information were handled.

The fastest answering ministers were: Chris Finlayson (who is Attorney-General, and has responsibility for Treaty negotiations and arts) who answered all requests within the 20 working day deadline and Maurice Williamson (a minister outside Cabinet responsible for a range of portfolios including building, customs and statistics) who answered 96.1 percent on time.

The slowest were:

* Gerry Brownlee (energy, economic development, leader of the house) -- 39.7 percent on-time.

* Judith Collins (police, corrections, veterans's affairs) -- 48.3 percent.

* Tim Groser (trade, climate change negotiations) and Jonathan Coleman (immigration, broadcasting, tourism) -- 50 percent.

* Kate Wilkinson (labour, conservation, food safety) -- 52.3 percent.

* Phil Heatley (fisheries, housing) --54.2 percent.

* Paula Bennett (social development and employment, youth affairs) refused to cooperate with the survey.

The blogger said it was appalling that ministers were not ensuring they met the legal time limit.

"The Act has been law since 1982. After 28 years there is no excuse for this failure. It can only be interpreted as wilful and deliberate."

Government departments were also surveyed and performed well.

"The difference between ministerial offices and government departments is significant," said Idiot/Savant.

"It shows that the problem is political. Ministers just don't want to answer."

There are no legal penalties for ignoring the Act's requirements.

The information was based on requests to ministers from July 1 2009-June 30 2010.

The blogger said ministers should be required to supply the statistics that he gathered.

"Compiling and publishing these sorts of statistics should not be left to unpaid volunteers -- it should be a statutory requirement of every minister and every agency.

"That way, we can see who is performing and who is not, and hold politicians accountable in Parliament, in the media and at the ballot box for any failures."

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