December 17, 2014
The Chief Ombudsman, Dame Beverley Wakem, has begun a wide ranging review of Official Information Act (OIA) practices in the public sector. Read the full media release here. The Project Summary can be read here. The Survey of Agencies can be read here. The Survey of Ministers can be read here.
December 17, 2014
The Ombudsman has released his opinion on a complaint about a DHB’s decision to withhold information about a surgeon, including the number and types of procedures he had performed. Professor Paterson concluded that there was good reason to withhold some, but not all of the information, in order to protect the surgeon’s privacy.
In relation to the surgical statistics, Professor Paterson commented that disclosure of work-related information is an important aspect of a DHB’s accountability for the work of its general surgeons and other senior medical officers. Surgeons are highly qualified specialists employed in the publicly funded health system to provide health services for patients.
There is a public interest in members of the community and the media being able to access data about the types of procedures and quantity of work performed by specialists in New Zealand’s public hospitals. Professor Paterson recommended that the DHB release information relating to the number and type of procedures performed by the surgeon. You can read the full opinion here.
December 9, 2014
The Human Rights Commission has today released the OPCAT Annual Report for 2013/2014. You can read the full report here.
November 30, 2014
The Spring edition of the Ombudsman Quarterly Review is now available.
November 26, 2014
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee) is a body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention).
All countries are obliged to submit reports to the Committee on how disability rights are being implemented. Each nation must report within two years of adopting the Convention and thereafter every four years.
The New Zealand Government's most recent report to the Committee was reviewed on 15 and 16 September 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee's Concluding Observations on disability issues in New Zealand are now available.
Members of New Zealand's Independent Monitoring Mechanism (which comprises of the Human Rights Commission, the Convention Coalition Monitoring Group and the Office of the Ombudsman) were in attendance to observe the examination. The Independent Monitoring Mechanism closely watches the disability rights situation in New Zealand, and recently published its second major report entitled Making Disability Rights Real which reviews domestic implementation of the Convention.
The Independent Monitoring Mechanism also made a number of recommendations in its most recent report, and presented these to Committee Members in Geneva in a briefing. Members of the Committee commented that they found the briefing useful as it assisted them to formulate questions to ask the New Zealand Government, and helped to inform Concluding Observations.
The Independent Monitoring Mechanism will encourage the Government to give credence to the Committee's Concluding Observations, along with our own recommendations, so that rights of persons with disabilities in New Zealand continue to improve.
New Zealand's next examination before the Committee is scheduled for 2018.
November 21, 2014
The Ombudsman has published his opinion on a complaint concerning the Police refusal to release information about a charging decision. The complainant wanted to know ‘how and why’ Police preferred a charge of careless use of a firearm over manslaughter, in relation to the hunting death of Alexander Cameron McDonald. The information at issue was ‘legally privileged’ and protected by section 9(2)(h) of the OIA, but the Ombudsman considered that the public interest required disclosure of a summary of the reasons. This would serve to increase the transparency of the decision-making process and promote accountability of the Police for their decision.You can read the full opinion here.
November 7, 2014
The Chief Ombudsman has released her opinion on a complaint about the manner in which the Horowhenua District Council investigated a councillor's alleged code of conduct breaches. Dame Beverley Wakem found that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor unreasonably failed to disqualify themselves from investigating the matter on grounds that they could be perceived to be biased. You can read the full opinion here.
October 22, 2014
The Ombudsman has released his opinion on a complaint about the NZ Fire Service’s decision to refuse a request for the NZ Localities dataset, unless the requester signed a licence agreement governing use of the dataset. Professor Paterson found that withholding an unlicensed copy of the dataset was necessary to avoid prejudice to the measures the Fire Service has in place to protect public health and safety, and to protect or mitigate against material loss to members of the public: “A conservative approach is prudent when considering the necessity of avoiding prejudice to measures that are designed to protect against potentially devastating consequences.” The public interest is met because the dataset is available free, provided the licence agreement is signed, and the licence requirements are not onerous. You can read the full opinion here.
October 22, 2014
The Chief Ombudsman has released her opinion on a complaint about the decision of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to withhold a preliminary list of buildings requiring structural review. Dame Beverley considered that release would unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of the building owners. She acknowledged the public right to know if buildings are unsafe, but found the list in question wouldn’t accurately reveal that. In addition, local authorities would publicly notify any buildings subsequently confirmed to be unsafe. You can read the full opinion here.
October 15, 2014
The Ombudsman's annual report for 2013/14, published today, shows the Office is making significant progress in effectively managing its work to make sure people are treated fairly. Read the full media release here.
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