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How politicians seek to hide your information away

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Hide and Seek: How politicians seek to hide your information away

Andrea Vance06:03, Mar 14 2019




The episode first aired more than 30 years ago, when New Zealand's own Official Information Act was just four years old.

But as the Government asks for feedback on the state of the OIA, a Stuff investigation has shown that Sir Humphrey's crafty sentiments are still relevant in today's public service.

Concerned bureaucrats, insiders and politicians have shared some of the tricks and tactics that are used to thwart you seeking the information you are legally entitled to.

The guiding principle of the Act is that information should be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it. The OIA allows us to pester the powerful into telling us what they've been up to.

The Danks committee, whose reports led to the enactment of the OIA, said in 1980: "The fact that the release of certain information may give rise to criticism or embarrassment of the government is not an adequate reason for withholding it from the public."

But today the regime they envisioned is now marked by delays, obstruction and a presumption against releasing documents for fear it trips up ministers or discredits their departments.





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