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  • Request for names and email addresses of people consulted on draft speech

    Case notes
    Recipients and senders of emails consulted—disclosure would not inhibit senior public servants from expressing free and frank opinions in future—however others would be inhibited
  • Request for comments on early draft cabinet papers

    Case notes
    Request for documents regarding Kyoto Protocol—information contained initial Treasury comments on draft versions of cabinet paper—part of informal consultation early in policy making process—concern that release would result in officials being less co-operative and formalise the process—withholding necessary to maintain effective conduct of public affairs
  • Tertiary Council appointments process controlled by Council

    Case notes
    Nomination for appointment to Tertiary Council pursuant to s 171(2)(f)(ii) Education Act 1989 required workers’ organisation to be consulted—Council refused to appoint organisation’s sole nominee and sought further nominations from organisation—appointment process stalled—alleged unreasonable failure by Council to consult—Ombudsman held consultation confers no rights on an organisation and that Council controlled appointments process
  • Department of Corrections required to state reasons for security classification

    Case notes
    Prison inmate complained that his security classification had been unreasonably assessed and Ombudsman concluded the Department failed to provide ‘strong reasons’ (which must be stated)—Ombudsman found the Prison officers had based their classification on uncorroborated, unrecorded, verbal statement made by another inmate—Ombudsman upheld complaint based on inequitable situation that would result if prison relied solely on this information, however, the inmate released before any recommendation could be made
  • Local Authority cannot call ‘workshop’ a meeting for purposes of LGOIMA

    Case notes
    Council Workshop—decisions not formally made—requirements of the Act cannot be avoided by calling a meeting a workshop—Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, s 45(1)
  • Councils required to add to LIM matters on neighbouring property if relevant

    Case notes
    Purchaser requested LIM from Council on property he was considering buying—LIM received and property purchased—after purchaser gained possession he discovered neighbour had building consent to drain storm water into his drain—building consent not referred to in LIM report—purchaser sought removal of drain and records about drain, and reimbursement of legal costs—Council advised its practice was to note consents only on applicant’s file - Ombudsman held Council’s actions unreasonable—Council agreed to pay compensation
  • Council should pay for cost of obtaining second legal opinion on straightforward matter raised by complainant

    Case notes
    Property owner disagreed with Council that resource consent was necessary for building house—Council sought external legal advice and billed property owner who refused to pay—Council went to Disputes Tribunal which ordered property owner to pay all legal fees and court costs—property owner complained to Ombudsman who considered legislation and found it to be unambiguous that both the operative and proposed district plans must be complied with—Council agreed issue was straightforward and was aware of legislation and relevant case law—Ombudsman did not consider it necessary for further advice to be obtained on issue—view formed that it was appropriate for Council to exercise discretion under s36(5) of Resource Management Act 1991 and remit charge—in circumstances, Ombudsman also considered it unreasonable for Council not to remit Court and solicitor’s costs payable pursuant to Disputes Tribunal order—recommended all costs be remitted
  • Department of Corrections revises guidelines on implications for visitors possessing drugs

    Case notes
    Prison banned inmate’s family members from visiting for 12-months after small amount of cannabis found in their possession—the inmate complained that the duration of ban was unreasonable but the Department of Corrections noted it had zero tolerance policy for drugs with an automatic 12-month prohibition order to be placed on anyone found with them on prison property—Ombudsman concluded blanket ban unreasonable and the Department agreed each case to be considered on merits and prepared guidelines for prisons—Ombudsman advised inmate to apply for a review of prohibition order under the new guidelines
  • Local Authority rejects Ombudsman’s recommendation to monitor nuisance as required under RMA

    Case notes
    Local Authority failed to respond to complaints from residents about dust and noise nuisance. What it should have done was to consider complaints from residents by undertaking relevant surveys and tests to determine the extent of the problem being complained about (this is a responsibility under ss17 and 35 of the Resource Management Act 1991)—complaint sustained —Ombudsman recommended the Local Authority monitor noise and nuisance effects—recommendation rejected
  • Local Authority issued a Project Information Memorandum (PIM) unlawfully

    Case notes
    Property developer changed basis of development and obtained new Project Information Memorandum (PIM) containing conditions not prescribed in s 31(2) of the Building Act 1991—complainant considered the contents of the PIM unauthorised as the changes had not been agreed to by purchasers of the owner developing the property and action incurring legal expenses—Ombudsman found PIM not issued lawfully but agreed for Authority to amend the PIM to comply with LGOIMA—complainant offered ex gratia payment in recognition of legal costs incurred
  • Local Authority issues non-notified resource consent for vacant site

    Case notes
    Non-notified resource consent application granted for vacant site – neighbours claimed damage resulted from excavations and complained about the height of the building erected—Ombudsman investigated and found no apparent breach of s 94 of the Resource Management Act or District Plan rules and concluded the Local Authority was not unreasonable to issue a non-notified consent in this case—complaint not sustained—question of liability for damage allegedly incurred by complainants was a civil matter to be pursued in the courts
  • Department of Corrections accepts obligation to consider inmates’ circumstances when deciding work and educational paroles

    Case notes
    Refusal of work and educational paroles before inmate appeared before National Parole Board—inflexible policy inconsistent with concept of individual case management—review resulted in detailed case management plan for inmate
  • Local Authorities should avoid unnecessary delay processing resource consents

    Case notes
    Time limits for decisions made in respect of resource consent applications—ss 21 and 115 of the Resource Management Act—processing delays—responsibility of local authorities to avoid unreasonable delays
  • Request for documents prepared for Minister regarding Treaty of Waitangi claims

    Case notes
    Due particularity and duty to provide reasonable assistance—s 12(2) and 13
  • Request for information disclosed during confidential Ministerial briefing to sector group

    Case notes
    Request by Opposition for information disclosed during confidential Ministerial briefing to sector group—s 9(2)(g)(i)—effective conduct of public affairs—public interest balancing—accountability—need for transparency in Minister’s dealings with financial sector
  • Request for information relating to the setting up of the Special Committee on Nuclear Propulsion

    Case notes
    Request for information relating to the setting up of the Special Committee on Nuclear Propulsion—given the sensitivity of the nuclear propulsion issue and the context in which the information had been generated, the withholding of the information was necessary under ss 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(g)(i)—at the time of the review the balance of public interest favoured withholding the information requested—the overall public interest was better served in allowing the Special Committee to complete its review in an orderly manner
  • Request for Court Registrar’s report

    Case notes
    Report on aborted trial released with deletions—‘free and frank expressions of opinion’ by Registrar—no public interest override
  • Request for a copy of paper presented to Cabinet Strategy Committee

    Case notes
    Information deleted from position paper on pricing issues presented by ECNZ to Cabinet Strategy Committee—ss 9(2)(g)(i) and 9(2)(j) applied to some of the information—interest in withholding information in certain sections of the paper outweighed by strong public interest in disclosure—s 9(1)—electricity pricing has a direct widespread impact on a large number of New Zealanders
  • Local Authority should share project overrun costs with residents

    Case notes
    Complaint concerned water supply and sewerage scheme which involved 50/50 cost sharing between residents and Council—cost overrun occurred and residents asked to pay the entire overrun—Ombudsman considered this unreasonable, particularly as the residents not informed about the overrun and that the overrun amount should be shared 50/50 between Council and residents—Council accepted this view