An attack on freedom of information II

Idiot / Savant

Idiot/Savant is an anonymous blogger living in exile.  He blogs about human rights, international affairs, and politics from a left - liberal perspective. Check out his blog

Last month, the State Services Commission released guidance for state servants during the election period, which included a significant attack on freedom of information. Currently the OIA is requester-neutral - everyone's requests are supposed to be treated equally under the law, regardless of who they are or why they are asking. But the SSC has told state sector agencies to treat requests from opposition political parties differently, requiring notification of the Chief Executive, consultations with Ministers, and possible extensions. The practical effect is to toss requester-neutrality out the window, while abusing the OIA to support the government of the day and suppress information they find politically embarrassing.

This flies in the face of the OIA's principles, not to mention past guidance from the Ombudsman (yes, the public service has been spanked before for these sorts of stunts), and I was curious as to whether SSC had consulted the Ombudsman for their views before releasing this guidance. So I asked. The response?

Freedom of the 'New Press' ~ The Internet was the Battlefield

The State Services Commission does not hold any correspondence relating to the preparation of the OIA advice in the Guidance for the 2014 Election period. It is the State Services Commissioner’s responsibility to issue guidance for the election period and to revise or refine this guidance from time to time. There was no consultation with the Office of the Ombudsman or with Ministers. The Minister of State Services was provided a copy of the guidance.

Which is quite shocking - I'd expect any agency issuing guidance on the OIA to at least consult the Ombudsman to ensure that their advice is consistent with the Act and won't result in a flood of complaints.

As for the next step: I'm considering making an Ombudsmen's Act complaint. Let's see what the Ombudsmen think of SSC's guidance when its brought to their attention...

Sort by

No one has commented on this page yet.
Post your comment to be the first.

Post your comment

Want to have your say?

It's quick, easy and 100% free.


Latest discussions

Endorsed Events

  • SpringBreak FIJI SpringBreak FIJI

    Surrounded by nothing but tranquil water, SpringBreak Fiji brings together the best of everything

  • The Fijian Cup The Fijian Cup

    The Pacific Touch Rugby festival (Fijian Cup and Kava Cup) is underway on November 2, 2017 and with support from Touch Fiji and...

  • Rock Island VANUATU Rock Island VANUATU

    Rock Island is an all inclusive fully immersive travel experience which was brought into the music festival scene by The Rock and...

  • TourismHQ TourismHQ

    With seven years and growing under their belt; TourismHQ has established and continues to deliver on their extensive wealth of...