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  • Immigration New Zealand unreasonably fails to accept Court Order as evidence in work permit application

    Case notes
    Immigration New Zealand (INZ), declined an application for a work permit made under its victims of domestic violence policy—Ombudsman concluded INZ incorrect to ignore the evidence provided of domestic violence—INZ agreed to amend policy to include final protection orders as evidence of domestic violence
  • Information released to others before requester

    Case notes
    Release of information to others before the requester constituted undue delay
  • Request for reasons about non-appointment

    Case notes
    Inadequate statement of reasons – more detail and specificity necessary to meet the requirements of s 23
  • Annual Report 2005/2006

    Annual reports
    During the year under review the Ombudsmen have placed a particular focus on how we might better relate to a wider and more diverse range of New Zealanders.
  • Request for information relating to residential care contract

    Case notes
    Negotiation of age-related residential care contracts not a commercial activity—s 9(2)(i) does not apply
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the transport 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. On 25 August 2006, prisoner Liam Ashley died as a result of injuries sustained while being transported in a van with other prisoners. Liam was aged 17, and had been the subject of violence by a 25 year old prisoner who was subsequently convicted of Liam’s murder. The Corrections Act 2004 aims to ensure that “custodial sentences and related orders … are administered in a safe, secure, humane, and effective manner”. It is a fundamental responsibility of the Department to achieve this.
  • Request for confirmation of debtor’s removal from New Zealand for purposes of insurance claim

    Case notes
    Privacy interest outweighed by public interest in enabling pursuit of legal rights and remedies
  • Request for advice and ‘think piece’ on reprioritisation or savings in Vote Education

    Case notes
    Disclosure of internal discussion documents and advice to Ministers would prejudice ongoing decision making process—disclosure of internal ‘think piece’ would inhibit future expression of free and frank opinions by officials—ss 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(g)(i) provide good reason to withhold
  • Ministry of Social Development should make ex-gratia payment for accidental disclosure of an informant’s identity

    Case notes
    Whether Child Youth and Family (CYF), a service of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) which received information from an informant about alleged offending by another individual, was reasonable to accidentally disclose the identity of this informant to the alleged offender – Ombudsman found CYF’s procedures for protecting the identity of informants had not been followed in this case
  • Request for draft briefings to the incoming government

    Case notes
    Disclosure of draft briefings to the incoming government would make officials reluctant to be so free and frank in expressing their initial and untested views and cause them to prefer less efficient and transparent verbal exchanges—section 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s decision regarding artefact was reasonable

    Case notes
    Ministry of Culture and Heritage—custody of bone artefact
  • Department of Conservation unreasonable to cease administrative practice without notice

    Case notes
    Department of Conservation to discontinue without notice a practice which people had come to reasonably rely on—Ombudsman concludes it was unreasonable to cease this administrative practice without notice
  • Overseas Investment Office approach to request for information in accordance with OIA guidelines

    Case notes
    Complaint concerning Overseas Investment Office allegedly acting unlawfully in deciding to release a copy of a letter authored by complainant, in response to an OIA request—Ombudsman disagrees and considers complainant cannot ‘veto’ the release of the letter
  • Ombudsmen’s statements made during inquiry inadmissible in evidence in any Court or other proceedings

    Case notes
    Requirement for Ombudsman’s investigation to be conducted in private—while another party may release details of the investigation, an Ombudsman cannot as this may prejudice the Ombudsman’s investigation and breach the Privacy Act
  • Request for offender’s photo on police file

    Case notes
    Rape victim sought photograph of attacker whose face she had never seen—Police refused the request to protect the privacy of the offender—s 9(2)(a) applied—public interest in assisting victims of crime to recover from trauma and move on with their lives—balance of competing privacy and public interest considerations needed to be made—appropriate to make photograph available for viewing subject to appropriate conditions
  • Request for qualifications and work history of staff at Polytechnic Department

    Case notes
    Request for details about staff at Polytechnic—withheld under s 9(2)(a) to protect privacy—public interest in ensuring employment practices of Polytechnic are transparent and fair—met by summary release of staff details and selection process
  • Request for copy of competitor’s licence deed

    Case notes
    Ferry service operator requested copy of competitor’s licence deed from ferry terminal facility owner—request refused under s 7(2)(b)(ii) LGOIMA on basis release would prejudice commercial position of licensee—licensee argued that it had originally negotiated licence in atmosphere of complete commercial confidentiality with then port authority at a time when neither party was subject to LGOIMA—Ombudsman considered s 8 LGOIMA and s 75 Local Government Act 2002—neither Act contains transitional or saving provisions concerning information held by private bodies that later become subject to this legislation—request for such information should therefore be considered in same way as any other LGOIMA request—Ombudsman found no commercial prejudice likely and strong public interest in release—facility owner released information.
  • 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 ACC notice board bulletin

    Case notes
    Requester sought a copy of ACC notice board bulletin - bulletin contains commentary and advice on various court decisions - prepared by practising solicitor in his professional capacity - purpose is to give general legal advice to case managers who routinely request and rely upon it - refused under s 9(2)(h) - legal professional privilege applies - no waiver even though it was distributed widely amongst ACC staff - marked confidential and subject to privilege - no public interest in release that outweighed strong public interest in ensuring privilege is maintained.
  • Delays by Te Puni Kōkiri in responding to requests from opposition researcher

    Case notes
    Blanket policy to consult Minister on all OIA requests unlawful—Ministerial ‘clearance’ or ‘approval’ of agency OIA requests not permitted
  • OIA request extension notified outside time limit

    Case notes
    Request for large amount of information relating to tobacco control—extension to time limit for responding to request required—extension notified outside time limit in s 15A—deemed a refusal—no further investigation required as decision on request pending
  • Request by mother for copy of letter she viewed at her son’s family group conference

    Case notes
    Mother requested copy of letter she viewed at her son’s family group conference—refused under s 18(c)(i) because all FGC matters are confidential—s 38 of Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989—disclosing letter to person who attended FGC does not amount to ‘publishing’ as prohibited by s 38—letter released with proviso
  • 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
  • Request for NZSIS files concerning two NZ scholars

    Case notes
    Writer sought NZSIS files on two individuals—Refused under s 6—bulk of information had been provided by overseas authorities under strict confidentiality agreements—various agencies consulted—some consented to release whereas others did not—complainant agreed to contact overseas agencies directly—ss 6(a) and 6(b) applied—release contrary to agreement would compromise quality and supply of similar information in future which would prejudice NZ’s security—some information released with identifiers deleted
  • Request by Korean company for information relating to Ministry of Defence decision not to shortlist the company

    Case notes
    Solicitors for Korean based company sought information on Ministry of Defence’s decision not to shortlist company in tender process—Ministry argued solicitors were agent for company which had no rights under the OIA—evidence suggested company had a place of business in New Zealand—s 12(1)(e) applied
  • Request for electronic copies of Ministers’ official diaries

    Case notes
    Request for electronic copies of certain Ministers’ official diaries covering a three month period—electronic copies of the diaries held only in a particular software package not available to the requester—no obligation, under the OIA, for Ministers to provide electronic copy of the diaries in another software package—technical and administrative difficulties in providing electronic copies of the diaries—s 16(2)(a) of the OIA provides grounds to refuse to provide electronic copies of the diaries
  • Request for printed copies of Ministers’ official diaries

    Case notes
    Request for printed copies of certain Ministers’ official diaries covering a three month period—printed copies of the diaries released with certain names and contact details deleted—a Minister’s diary per se is official information but not all the i
  • Request for ingredients of Foray 48B

    Case notes
    Releasing ingredients of pesticide used in aerial spraying operation would disclose a trade secret—public interest in disclosure finely balanced—s 9(2)(b)(i) provided good reason to withhold
  • Request for Crown Law opinion

    Case notes
    Request for Crown Law opinion that Creative NZ referred to in correspondence—withheld under s 9(2)(h)—legal professional privilege attached to information—whether partial disclosure of contents of opinion sufficient to constitute waiver—s 9(2)(h) applied
  • Request for land exchange agreement and valuations

    Case notes
    NZDF exchanging land with private land owners under the Public Works Act 1981—OIA request made to NZDF for copies of the exchange agreement and valuations of respective properties—NZDF refused under s 9(2)(i)—Ombudsman noted majority of information in standard form and already publicly available—unable to identify ‘commercial activity’—rather transaction was for defence purposes within the terms of the Public Works Act—NZDF released the information subject to the withholding of some information under s 9(2)(j) and s 9(2)(b)(ii)
  • Request for tape recording of Council Committee deliberations

    Case notes
    Property owner sought tape recording of Council Committee deliberations (public excluded) on his application for a resource consent—withheld under s 7(2)(f)(i)—basis for public exclusion invalid but withholding grounds still available to Council—information on tape recording consisted of free and frank expression of opinions which, if released, would harm ‘the effective conduct of public affairs’ by hampering, delaying or preventing future resource consent processes—no countervailing public interest considerations favouring release that would outweigh the need to protect information
  • Request for information relating to an investigation into alleged destruction of documents held by NZDF

    Case notes
    Request for information relating to an investigation into alleged destruction of documents held by New Zealand Defence Force—information withheld to prevent prejudice to the outcome of those inquiries—s 6(c) applied at the time the request was refused—information later released due to change in circumstances