Request for public submissions made on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children

Official Information Act 1982
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Official Information Act, s 9(2)(f)(iv) (constitutional conventions protecting the confidentiality of advice)
Ministry of Social Development
Dame Beverley Wakem
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Issue date:

Jacinda Ardern MP asked the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) for copies of submissions on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children received from organisations, businesses and academic staff.  MSD refused the request under section 9(2)(f)(iv) of the OIA because the “information is currently under active consideration”.  MSD also advised that a large number of submissions were caught within the terms of the request, and “the administrative burden of reviewing and assessing the content of each submission for public release would be unreasonably high”.  Ms Ardern complained to the Chief Ombudsman.  The Chief Ombudsman formed the provisional opinion that section 9(2)(f)(iv) of the OIA did not provide good reason to withhold the public submissions at issue.  MSD reconsidered its decision and agreed to release the information.  MSD also took commendable steps to initiate the development of some best practice guidance on the conduct of public submission processes.  The Chief Ombudsman discontinued her investigation on the basis that Ms Ardern’s complaint was resolved.

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