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  • Report on an unannounced inspection of Whanganui Prison - 4 September 2018

    OPCAT reports
    The following report has been prepared in my capacity as a National Preventive Mechanism under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989 (COTA). My function under the COTA is to examine and make any recommendations that I consider appropriate to improve the treatment and conditions of detained persons in a number of places of detention, including prisons. This report examines the treatment and conditions of persons detained in Whanganui Prison.
  • Local Authority excludes public from meeting when agenda item about water issues

    Case notes
    Complaint about a Local Authority (the Council) to exclude the public from a part of its Audit and Risk Committee meeting regarding its discussion of agenda item relating to water quality and water restriction issues—insufficient weight was given to the public interest in the subject matter of the agenda item
  • Request for corporate culture information contained in bus tender submissions

    Case notes
    Competitors could use the information to compare and refine their own submissions, potentially reducing the successful tenderers’ competitive advantage in future tender rounds—this would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the successful tenderers— s 7(2)(b)(ii) applies—public interest in accountability for the Council’s decision required release of a summary statement
  • Request for information about staff grievances and allegations of bullying

    Opinions
    Sam Sherwood, on behalf of Stuff, made a request to Selwyn District Council for information about staff grievances and allegations of bullying.
  • Request for business plan for Christchurch Convention and Exhibition Centre

    Case notes
    Competitors could copy or adopt third party’s methodology and strategy and devise plans based on its established operating systems which would unreasonably prejudice its commercial position—information subject to an explicit obligation of confidence and of a confidential nature—release would damage the public interest by making suppliers reluctant to participate in future procurement processes
  • Request for draft report prepared by PwC on Auckland Stadium

    Case notes
    Report refused because it was in draft form and commercially sensitive—parts of report withholdable however no basis for blanket withholding—strong public interest in release of report in part
  • Request for cost of digital and touch wall at new Christchurch Library

    Case notes
    Release would undermine supplier’s negotiations with other buyers which would unreasonably prejudice its commercial position—public interest in disclosure of information regarding Council expenditure outweighs withholding interest
  • Report on an unannounced follow-up inspection of Christchurch Women's Prison - 4 April 2018

    OPCAT reports
    In 2007, the Ombudsmen were designated one of the National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) under the Crimes of Torture Act (COTA), with responsibility for examining and monitoring the general conditions and treatment of detainees in New Zealand prisons.
  • Request for draft guidelines on religious instruction and observance in schools

    Case notes
    Officials still in the process of drafting—premature disclosure in advance of the planned public consultation process was not in the overall public interest
  • Request for cost of fees paid to a law firm

    Case notes
    Release of total fees would not unreasonably prejudice third party’s commercial position
  • Report on an unannounced inspection of Arohata Upper Prison - 21 March 2018

    OPCAT reports
    The Upper Prison was facing considerable challenges. Resources, infrastructure and staffing were under pressure, which was compounded by the geographical separation from the administrative centre at Tawa. Day-to-day operating systems and arrangements for dealing with women were not fully embedded. Reception and induction processes were poor, and information for foreign prisoners was not available. Significant delays in access to personal property were a source of frustration for many women, reflected in the growing number of complaints and misconducts.
  • Request for expenditure on goods and services provided by Palantir Technologies

    Case notes
    Release of total cost would not unreasonably prejudice third party’s commercial position—public interest in accountability for spending public money
  • Early resolution of a potential water restriction to a family home

    Case notes
    A family received notice that an agency would be severely restricting its water supply because of an overdue account. Once the Ombudsman became involved, the agency reviewed its accounts and realised it was in error. On the Ombudsman’s request, the agency apologised to the family and committed to reviewing its accounts more carefully before advising of possible water restrictions. From complaint to resolution, the issue was resolved in only 12 working days without the family suffering water restrictions.
  • Administrative error leading to loss of opportunity to name a road

    Case notes
    In mid-2016, the owners of land containing a private road became aware that Kaipara District Council (the Council) had excluded them from a consultation process that it had initiated among residents earlier that year to determine a name for the road.
  • Request for draft reports prepared by EY on Information Services

    Case notes
    Draft reports were in fact final reports—some information publicly available—negotiations had been concluded—neither s 7(2)(c)(ii) nor s 7(2)(i) apply—significant public interest in release to promote transparency of Council’s decision making processes and accountability for expenditure of ratepayer money
  • Request for statistics on allegations of assault by Corrections staff

    Case notes
    Requirements of Operations Manual meant source information to answer request should be held—manual compilation is not creation—s 18(g) does not apply—unreasonable to rely on s 18(f) when the fundamental difficulty in providing the information was down to the Department’s own administrative lapses
  • Request for Skypath business case and procurement plan

    Case notes
    Releasing business case and procurement plan would unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of the private partner in a public private partnership—withholding strengths and weaknesses of negotiating position necessary to enable Council to carry on negotiations without prejudice or disadvantage—ss 7(2)(b)(ii), 7(2)(c)(i), 7(2)(i) apply
  • Request for draft internal review of International Visitor Survey

    Case notes
    Internal review still in draft form—redacted comments comprised preliminary views of individual within agency—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied—no overriding public interest in disclosure
  • Department of Corrections staff to follow legislative requirements when segregating inmate

    Case notes
    Department of Corrections held prisoner in Management Unit without following required procedure—segregation legislation and regulations are clear and prescriptive
  • Local Authority fails to include relevant information on a Land Information Memorandum

    Case notes
    Local Authority omits to identify potential slippage risk on a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) issued to the complainant—Ombudsman sustains complaint
  • Local Authority not unreasonable to turn off water supply at property owned by a Trust

    Case notes
    Decision by Local Authority to turn off water supply in building occupied intermittently—Ombudsman finds not unreasonable
  • Request for amount of Government Securities beneficially owned by three major banks

    Case notes
    Amount of government securities beneficially owned by three major banks as at the end of January 1990—information supplied pursuant to s 36 of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989—importance of timely and accurate supply of data—s 9(2)(ba)(i) applied—holdings of Government Stock at specified dates important indicator of liquidity—s 9(2)(b)(ii) applied—public interest in protecting the investing public addressed by the provisions of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act relating to prudential supervision
  • Request for sale and purchase agreement and deed of lease

    Case notes
    Request for NZ Post property agreements—ss 9(2)(b)(ii), 9(2)(i) and 9(2)(j)—no good reason to withhold either the deed of lease or the agreement for sale and purchase.
  • Request by unsuccessful tenderer for copies of tender submissions for removal of bodies

    Case notes
    Format of the tender in this particular case was such that disclosure of the prices would be likely to prejudice the successful tenderer’s commercial position—s 9(2)(b)(ii) applies
  • Request for price of successful tender to supply disposable syringes and needles

    Case notes
    Sections 9(2)(b)(ii) and 9(2)(i) do not apply—public interest in release to promote integrity and transparency of tender process
  • 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
  • Request for quotation submitted by a Government Department

    Case notes
    Requester sought quotation information—amount apportioned by the department as royalties and copyright charges formed part of the department’s marketing and pricing strategy within a competitive market—also in circumstances of this case release of quotation would enable a calculation of how the quotation was made up
  • Request for price of successful tender to supply medical product

    Case notes
    No unreasonable prejudice—public interest in release to promote integrity and transparency of tender process
  • Request for amounts paid to private sector consultants for asset sale advice

    Case notes
    Request for amounts paid to private sector consultants for asset sale advice—initially refused under ss 9(2)(b)(ii) and 9(2)(j)—not possible to deduce individual fee structures or methodology from the information at issue—s 9(2)(b)(ii) did not apply—information at issue would be, at most, of a background nature (since it related to a different transaction) and was at a high level of generality—s 9(2)(j) did not apply—while the information might be considered by firms in deciding whether to pitch a proposal for a particular advisory contract, s 9(2)(i) not satisfied—argument that disclosure may result in a reduction in number of advisors willing to undertake Government work not persuasive due to the vigorous competition for the contracts—strong public interest in release to permit scrutiny of the level of expenditure and questions to be asked about the use of advisers and the decisions that have been taken