Request for Treasury costings of interest-free student loans policy
The Office of the Leader of the Opposition requested information about the Labour Party’s interest-free student loans policy in the run up to the 2005 general election. The Minister of Finance withheld some information, including Treasury costings of the proposed policy under section 9(2)(f)(iv) of the Official Information Act (OIA).
The Chief Ombudsman formed the opinion that there was no good reason under sections 9(f)(iv) or (g)(i) of the OIA to withhold the Treasury costings. He was not persuaded that disclosure would prejudice the decision making process or inhibit the Minister from seeking early ‘order of magnitude’ figures from Treasury in the future.
There was a strong public interest in disclosure of the information. Work done by Treasury to cost policy proposals should be in the public arena in a way that enables voters to form their own opinions during a general election. The Chief Ombudsman recommended that the information be released.
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.