Request for Associate Minister's letter concerning Let's Get Wellington Moving
The Hon Julie Anne Genter, Associate Minister of Transport (Associate Minister) sent a letter to the Hon Phil Twyford, Minister of Transport (Minister) during pre-consultation on the Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) indicative package draft Cabinet paper.
Both Ministers refused requests for this letter on the basis that withholding was necessary to maintain:
- the constitutional convention protecting collective ministerial responsibility (section 9(2)(f)(ii) of the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA)); and
- the effective conduct of public affairs through the free and frank expression of opinions between Ministers of the Crown (section 9(2)(g)(i) of the OIA).
For the reasons set out below, my opinion is that the Ministers were entitled to withhold a copy of the letter in order to maintain the effective conduct of public affairs through the free and frank expression of opinions between Ministers, and between Ministers and political parties. However, I also consider that there was a public interest in disclosure that warranted the release of some information.
I have outlined the specific information (from and about the letter) which I consider should be released to satisfy the public interest in this case. I have also advised Ministers that if they wish to add additional background to the proposed release they can do so. As the Ministers have agreed to release the proposed statement, it has not been necessary for me to make any recommendations.