The Taxpayers’ Union is welcoming the decision of Justice Collins allowing the judicial review of the Minister of Trade’s decision not to allow access to information requested by Jane Kelsey and others relating to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:
“This is a significant victory for freedom of information and an embarrassment for the Office of the Ombudsman which has been shown up as lacking. Every day, groups from the Taxpayers’ Union to Greenpeace along with public lawyers and political journalists are hampered by a freedom of information system which is being gamed by the government.”
"For years the Ombudsman’s office has complained that the problems are due to a lack of funding. In reality, the number of appeals relating to the Official Information Act has snowballed because government agencies and politicians know that the Ombudsman is a toothless tiger.”
“Even when cases arise of officials completely gaming the system, the Ombudsman's office won’t publicly condemn them for their actions."
"Agencies are able to delay the Ombudsman's investigations without consequence. As a public lawyer I once acted for a whistle-blower client who lost his job in the public sector while waiting more than two years for the Ombudsman to made a decision that never eventuated."
“While Jane Kelsey and the Taxpayers’ Union are probably on opposite ends of most political spectrum, we absolutely commend her efforts in taking this judicial review and the victory for freedom of information and transparency. Ironically, while the High Court has been able to produce a decision the Ombudsman is still yet to determine the rest of Ms Kelsey’s original complaint."
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is an independent and membership-driven activist group, dedicated to being the voice for Kiwi taxpayers in the corridors of power.
The Taxpayers' Union operates a 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Representatives are available on (04) 282 0302.
High resolution images and logos are available on request or online at http://www.taxpayers.org.nz/resources