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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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Administrative error resulting in lost opportunity for ACC claim

    Case notes
    A patient who was unaware he had asbestosis underwent a CT scan while being treated at a DHB Hospital. On the scan’s accompanying notes a radiologist noted previous asbestos exposure. This CT scan with accompanying notes was misfiled, for unknown reasons, and the patient’s diagnosis of asbestosis was not confirmed until autopsy.
  • Ministry of Health unreasonably disallowed visiting Australian resident access to publicly funded health services

    Case notes
    Whether the Ministry of Health was unreasonable to determine that medical treatment obtained by a visitor to New Zealand was not ‘immediately necessary’ and therefore not covered by reciprocal health agreement with Australia – Ombudsman considered the Ministry of Health erred – complaint sustained
  • 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
  • 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
  • Request for details of 404 land covenants

    Case notes
    Complaint about s 18(f) refusal resolved by release of other information
  • 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 list of reports received by Minister

    Case notes
    Request for four months worth of dates, titles and reference numbers of reports—decision making and quality assurance did not constitute ‘collation’ or ‘research’—release with caveat would address issues around reliability of data—s 18(f) did not apply, particularly in light of ability to extend time to respond
  • Request for medical waiver statistics

    Case notes
    Task involved in manually reviewing tens of thousands of applications was ‘substantial’
  • Request for numbers of staff with criminal convictions

    Case notes
    Request involved manual search of over 4,500 files and 2000 hours—refusal under s 18(f) justified
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Failure by health funding body to honour undertaking by predecessor funding body to fund gender reassignment surgery unreasonable

    Case notes
    The Health Funding Authority (disestablished in 2001) was required to consider a complaint against its predecessor (Regional Health Authority) about an agreement by RHA to fund gender reassignment surgery—the RHA had initially agreed to fund this surgery but then changed its policy—the Ombudsman concluded that it was unreasonable for the RHA not to honour this undertaking on the basis of a subsequent change in policy and that its successor, the HFA should remedy the unreasonable actions of its predecessor—the HFA agreed with the Ombudsman’s recommendations to fund the gender reassignment surgery in the manner originally approved—as the HFA was by this time disestablished the matter was passed to the Ministry of Health for completion
  • Medical Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal outside Ombudsman’s jurisdiction

    Case notes
    Complaint about Medical Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal decision to strike off a doctor and media coverage of the hearing—no jurisdiction to investigate—Ombudsman has discretion to investigate matters of administration with respect to the Health and Disability Commissioner’s investigation into the doctor’s medical practices but only if complainant has sufficient interest in the subject-matter of complaint and consent from the doctor
  • 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