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  • 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 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 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
  • 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 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
  • 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 CAA investigation report on Minister’s airport security breach

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(a) OIA applied to information that would identify Minister’s staff—s 9(2)(a) did not apply to non-sensitive information about actions that occurred in a public place, or to the name of the Investigator—s 6(c) did not apply to information su
  • Request for draft terms of reference for an inquiry

    Case notes
    Draft terms of reference largely the same as publicly available final ones—release would not inhibit the future free and frank expression of opinion or provision of advice to the Prime Minister—s 9(2)(g)(i) did not apply
  • Local Authority provided unreasonable advice regarding its investigation process

    Case notes
    Whether the Local Authority (District Council) reasonably provided advice to complainant regarding an investigation it was undertaking into a Code of Conduct complaint—Ombudsman of the view that the Council erred in this respect
  • Request for evaluation and audit reports regarding extended supervision orders

    Case notes
    Evaluation report comprised largely academic material and statistical analysis—9(2)(g)(i) did not apply—audit report had been submitted to senior management but marked as draft—disclosure of majority not likely to prejudice future exchange of free and frank opinions—significant public interest considerations in favour of disclosure—audit report released with deletion of names and detailed findings relating to individual service providers
  • Request for briefing notes relating to state visits

    Case notes
    Inspection on conditions in order to identify the documents required provided means of resolving s 18(f) refusal
  • Request for DHB Commissioner’s draft work plan

    Case notes
    Release of draft work plan would likely result in reluctance by staff to draft and consult on document—components of plan, once confirmed, were to be included in the 2016/17 annual plan—s 9(2)(g)(i) provided good reason to withhold
  • Request for draft financial performance analysis

    Case notes
    Draft financial performance analysis prepared by Alma Consulting—s 9(2)(g)(i) did not apply— strong public interest in release
  • Local Authority not unreasonable to enforce pool fence requirements despite previous decisions

    Case notes
    Local Authority previously allowed existing fence of swimming pool—new inspection revealed old decisions wrong—complainant considered change unfair—Ombudsman concluded Council entitled to insist on regulations
  • 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
  • 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
  • Request for names of ‘eminent New Zealanders’ consulted during preparation of Intelligence and Security Agencies Bill

    Case notes
    Request for names of ‘eminent New Zealanders’ who were part of the consultative process in preparing the Intelligence and Security Agencies Bill—request refused under s 9(2)(g)(i) —individuals consulted—in respect of those who advised that disclosure would inhibit them from giving free and frank advice to the Government in future, section 9(2)(g)(i) applied—need to withhold outweighed by countervailing public interest