Request for document related to coalition negotiations between Labour and New Zealand First
Two complaints were received under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA), about the decision by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, not to release certain information relating to the coalition negotiations between the Labour Party and New Zealand First. The Prime Minister considered that the requested document did not contain ‘official information’ held in her capacity as Prime Minister.
The Chief Ombudsman reviewed a full copy of the document in question. He also sought an explanation from the Prime Minister’s Office about the generation and any subsequent use of the document, and met with her officials to discuss the Prime Minister’s decision. The Chief Ombudsman also consulted with the Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, about the information.
After careful consideration of the document in question, comments by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Deputy Prime Minister, and comments by the complainants, the Chief Ombudsman formed the opinion that the information requested was not ‘official information’ held by Ms Ardern in her official capacity as Prime Minister. The information within the document had not formed a part of the final coalition agreement concerning the formation of a new government, and had not been used by Ministers since the government was formed. The Chief Ombudsman therefore considered that the document was still held by Ms Ardern in her capacity as Labour Party Leader, and not subject to the OIA.