FOI OK for Courts, But Not New Zealand Parliament

4 February 2013

The New Zealand government has said it is willing to apply the Official Information Act to the administrative functions of the courts, but will not support having it extended to cover Parliament.

Justice Minister Judith Collins Feb. 4 gave the government’s responses to recommendations from the Law Commission in July of 2012, supporting many of its recommendations. (See previous report.)

Extending coverage of the law to the courts would mean applying it to such topics as the budget and statistical information about cases.

Collins also supporting giving new protection to commercially sensitive information and third party information.

The government’s response was criticized by Green party spokeswoman Holly Walker, who was quoted in The Dominion Post as saying, “The Law Commission recommended a substantive review and possible rewrite of the act, but instead the Government is tinkering around the edges … picking out the recommendations that suit it, like creating new ways of withholding information.”

“At the same time, it is ignoring recommendations that it doesn’t like, including extending the OIA to cover Parliament,” Walker said, also expressing concern about changes regarding commercial information.

“The Government should have either considered the Law Commission’s recommendation to create a new standalone office to oversee compliance with the OIA, or committed to better resourcing the Office of the Ombudsman,” according to Walker, as quoted in a New Zealand Herald article.

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