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  • Report on complaints arising from aerial spraying

    Systemic investigations
    In June 2003 I received complaints from Ms Jane Schaverien, then of Auckland but now of Wellington, to investigate under the Ombudsmen Act 1975 the question whether the information given to Ministers by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was inadequate regarding the possible dangers associated with the widespread concentrated use of Foray 48B in West Auckland, and in relation to the Ministry of Health, whether the Ministry had failed to pursue its responsibilities under the Health Act, 1956, or had abdicated those responsibilities in favour of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. In September 2003 I received a complaint from a Hamilton resident, Ms Michelle Rhodes, in generally similar terms regarding the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. These complaints arose from the aerial spraying operations carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in West Auckland to eliminate the Painted Apple Moth, and in parts of Hamilton to eliminate the Asian Gypsy Moth. In relation to West Auckland these operations began on a comparatively small-scale in January 2002, they were continued on a much larger scale through to May 2003, and were finally completed in May 2004.
  • Report on issues involving the criminal justice sector

    Systemic investigations
    The following is my report consequent on a reference directed to me by the Prime Minister to investigate the administration of the criminal justice system. The Terms of Reference directed to me are attached as Appendix A. By agreement the reporting date was extended to 1 December 2007. I note that my report is to be tabled in Parliament. My investigation has been conducted in accordance with the provisions in the Ombudsmen Act 1975.
  • Request for draft report on Department of Labour internal controls prepared by KPMG

    Case notes
    Document labelled ‘draft’ really a final—author was a consultant who would not be deterred from expressing free and frank opinions in future—s 9(2)(g)(i) does not apply
  • Charge for supply of information about Maori interests in the management of petroleum

    Case notes
    Charge avoided by allowing inspection subject to conditions
  • Request for transcripts of Police communications in relation to emergency calls

    Case notes
    No blanket protection for operational discussions between Police officers—need for withholding had to be assessed with regard to the content of the actual communications at issue—opinions expressed were ‘free and frank’ but were not ‘necessary’ for effective conduct of public affairs—details about the communications already publicly available—s 9(2)(g)(i) did not apply and even if it did it was outweighed by strong public interest in release
  • Request for draft responses to OIA requests

    Case notes
    Releasing draft OIA responses would be likely to inhibit the future free and frank expression of opinions—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Corrections unreasonable not to pay for inmate’s glasses for re-integration programme

    Case notes
    Long serving prison inmate required glasses to participate in reintegration programme and work in prison tailor shop—Department of Corrections refused to pay for glasses unless inmate would refund them through his prison earnings—inmate later found out Department had paid for another inmate’s glasses in full—Ombudsman sustained complaint that inmate was not treated fairly—refund to inmate of money paid recommended.
  • Auckland International Airport unreasonable to issue Trespass Notice

    Case notes
    Auckland International Airport Ltd—Trespass Notice to shuttle driver unreasonable and unjust—penalty imposed by airport out of proportion in relation to offence
  • Land Information New Zealand entitled to sell property previously available for buy-back

    Case notes
    Claim as successors for the offer-back of a disused school site—Ombudsman not wholly satisfied with some aspects of the process adopted by LINZ, but concluded that claimants could not fall within the statutory definition of ‘successor’
  • Transpower New Zealand’s refusal to consent to construction not unreasonable

    Case notes
    Complaint about refusal of Transpower New Zealand Ltd to allow building on property over which it had easement—Transpower refused consent—Ombudsman found its actions not unreasonable
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the detention and treatment of prisoners

    Systemic investigations
    Under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, it is a function of the Ombudsmen to investigate complaints relating to matters of administration affecting persons in their personal capacity against various bodies, including the Department of Corrections (the Department). Pursuant to this Act, the Ombudsmen have power to investigate complaints by prisoners about all aspects of their detention by the Department. At the end of 2004 serious issues related to the treatment of prisoners came to public attention.
  • Request for report on suicide and the media

    Case notes
    Strong public interest in requester having access—participation in making of laws and policy— release on conditions
  • Landcorp fails to monitor survey of land for sale

    Case notes
    Lessee of Crown land given opportunity to purchase it freehold in 1996 from Landcorp—a review of title revealed land had been surveyed to exclude all internal waterways used by lessee for his salmon and trout farms and problem discovered too late for exemptions under Conservation Act—the consequences of survey effectively confiscated farms and lessee complained to Ombudsman that Landcorp’s failure to monitor survey allowed issuance of title for an unviable property—Ombudsman reviewed circumstances and agreed Landcorp should have ensured it was informed of survey progress—its failure to monitor meant Landcorp could not take more effective measures to overcome title issues and land subsequently not fit for sale—view formed that Landcorp’s sale was unreasonable—Landcorp disagreed with view but agreed to make ex-gratia payment to complainant
  • Request for communications between Chief of Defence Force and Prime Minister

    Case notes
    MP requested information on the restructuring of the NZDF—two letters from the Chief of Defence Force to the Prime Minister regarding draft reports withheld under s 9(2)(g)(i)—distinction between substantive comment about draft reports and minor editorial suggestions—substantive comments were recordings of Chief of Defence Force’s free and frank discussions with Prime Minister—part of Chief of Defence Force role is to advise Prime Minister but he would not have reduced comments to writing if he had thought they would be made public—free and frank comments needed to maintain constructive working relationship with Prime Minister—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied to substantive comments but not to remaining information
  • Request for early stage policy advice relating to paid parental leave

    Case notes
    Request for information relating to paid parental leave policy—information withheld to maintain collective ministerial responsibility, protect confidentiality of advice and free and frank exchange—in the circumstances no good reason to withhold
  • Request for minute from Chief of Air Staff to Chief of Defence Force

    Case notes
    Request for minute from Chief of Air Staff to Chief of Defence Force regarding return of aircraft to Samoa to uplift a civilian passenger—minute contained free and frank expressions of opinion—factual information and summary of opinions released—manner in which opinions expressed particularly frank—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied—public interest in release satisfied by release of summary
  • Crown Research Institute’s publication on nicotine in tobacco inadequate

    Case notes
    Publication of research data subsequently found to be flawed—notice of research results to interested parties—adequacy of subsequent retraction—inclusion of contextual material with media release—relationship between an Ombudsman's jurisdiction and issues involving scientific techniques and the course of research—matter of administration—Ombudsmen Act 1975, s 13