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New case note—confidential advice tendered by Police

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The Chief Ombudsman has issued a new case note that further illustrates his approach to section 9(2)(f)(iv) of the OIA when coalition negotiations are in train.

Section 9(2)(f)(iv) applies where withholding is necessary to maintain the constitutional convention protecting the confidentiality of advice tendered by Ministers and officials.

The Chief Ombudsman found that an early ministerial briefing by the Police on an issue in the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First could be withheld because negotiations between the coalition parties were still underway, and in that context, release would have prejudiced the orderly and effective conduct of the government decision making process.

The Chief Ombudsman also found that Police staff can be ‘officials’ for the purpose of section 9(2)(f)(iv). In his view, that is a ‘broad term that includes members of public service and those who have a relationship with their Ministers that are akin to that’. The Ombudsman’s Confidential advice to government guide has been updated as a consequence.

Read the case note: Request for information about volunteer rural constabulary programme.

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