By enabling scrutiny of government activities, the Official Information Act 1982 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 contribute to public trust and confidence in central and local government. The operating environment of these Acts is, however, very different from 30 years ago, in terms of parliamentary and government processes, technology, the internet, and public expectations. The review assessed these two Acts in light of these changes with a focus on the effective operation of the legislation for members of the public, officials, journalists, researchers and politicians.
The first stage of the review was an informal survey of agencies and interest groups, building on recent research into how the Official Information Act works in practice. The results of the Survey were published in March 2010. An Issues Paper, The Public’s Right to Know: A Review of the Official Information Act 1982 and Parts 1-6 of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (NZLC IP18, 2010), was published in September 2010 with submissions due at the end of 2010. Almost 100 submissions were received.
The final report, The Public's Right to Know: Review of the Official Information Legislation (NZLC R125, 2012) was tabled in Parliament on 25 July 2012. The report endorses the well-established principles of the legislation and the essential role of the Office of the Ombudsmen but also contains over 100 recommendations for reform. These are intended to meet growing public expectations for easy access to information and to enable agencies to be more efficient in how they provide information. Recommendations cover alignment of the legislation with government policy about proactive release of information, legislative amendments to simplify the withholding grounds and improve operational processes, and clarification of the reach of the legislation. In line with international models, establishment of a statutory oversight function for the operation of the legislation is recommended.
Please click here for a summary of our key recommendations.