Request for information about the Rugby World Cup
No certainty that information would be released in the near future—s 18(d) did not apply
The Minister for the Rugby World Cup (RWC) refused to release information about the RWC on the basis that all the relevant documents would be publicly released when Auckland Council completed its review of the delivery of this event. The requester complained to the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman noted that ‘will soon be publicly available’ imports an element of assurance that the information will in fact be released in the near future. The Minister merely suggested that it was ‘anticipated’ that all relevant documents would be released when the Auckland Council’s review was complete. There was no certainty that the information would be released or when it would be released.
The Ombudsman stated that, unless there was, at the time of the decision, a genuine commitment by the agency holding the information to publish it at a reasonably certain point in the near future, then the conditions for invoking section 18(d) had not been met. The Ombudsman noted that it was not an issue of how reasonable the Minister’s assumption was that such a decision would be taken. For reliance to be placed on section 18(d) some certainty must exist that the information will actually be published. This did not appear to have been the case when the Minister replied to the requesters in this case.
Furthermore, by the time the Ombudsman formed a view on the complaint, although the review by the Council had been completed, there had still been no release of relevant information. This confirmed the Ombudsman’s view that it was not appropriate to rely on section 18(d) to refuse the request.
This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.