New Zealand Commission Recommends Changing Law

8 October 2010

The New Zealand Law Commission has recommended more proactive release of information and eliminating the right of Cabinet or local authorities to veto a release order, according to media accounts.

The Law Commission on Sept. 20 released an issues paper, “The Public’s Right To Know,” and requested public comments by Dec. 10.

The commission recommended scrapping allowing the Cabinet or local authorities the right to veto decisions by the Ombudsman, to whom appeals of denials are taken. “We propose that the veto … be done away with, in which case the only means of challenging the Ombudsmen’s decision would be via judicial review,” the issues paper says.

“The paper strongly supported greater use of proactively releasing information, an idea that is gaining traction in the Open Labour NZ debate on a more transparent Government,” the The New Zealand Herald reported.

The paper also suggested broadening the scope of coverage of the law, and floated the idea of an independent Information Commission to oversee the process.

New Government Strategy

Separately, the government Oct. 7 announced its new “Directions and Priorities for Government ICT’” to replaces its 2006 eGoverment Strategy.

“Support open and transparent government” is one of the five stated priorities. Improving access to government data also is addressed. The report states:

Government data effective belongs to the New Zealand public, and its release and re-use has the potential to:

  – stimulate economic growth

  – promote innovation in the private sector through the development of new products and business opportunities based on government data

  – contribute to transparency of government thereby maintaining the integrity of the public management system

  – allow greater participation in government policy development by offering insight and expert knowledge on released data (e.g. using geospatial data to analyse patterns of crime in communities)

  – enable educational, research, and scientific communities to build on existing data to gain knowledge and expertise and use it for new purposes

 

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