Ombudsman rejects report he sided with Government over secret document

The Ombudsman has rejected reports he's siding with the Government over keeping its coalition document a secret.

The 33-page document, formed between Labour and New Zealand First, has been subject to controversy after the Government refused to publicly release it under the Official Information Act.

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier is investigating the Government's refusal, and Newsroom published his provisional decision earlier on Tuesday.

According to Newsroom, Mr Boshier "ruled that the Government was within its rights to withhold the material".

But Mr Boshier said it's "regrettable" that his provisional decision had been made public as the investigation is ongoing.

"I want to do a thorough job on this investigation. Any suggestion that I have reached a conclusion on this issue is premature," he said in a statement.

Mr Boshier said he received the complainant's comments on the provisional decision last night and will "consider their points carefully" before making a final decision.

Make it public - English

National leader Bill English is pressuring the Government to make the document public regardless of the Ombudsman's decision.

"A fully transparent Government wouldn't be hiding behind the Ombudsman, they'd release it," he said.

"It's the Government who said they'd be transparent, and one of their first and high profile actions has been to hide a critical document of the coalition process."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it's up to the Ombudsman to decide "whether or not they're official documentation".

She maintains it's not a matter of the Government wanting to hide the information, saying that anything Labour and New Zealand First agreed to had been made public.

"There are elements of those discussions that were never finalised, never resolved, they're things that we may never pursue," she said.

The Government's coalition agreement was originally 38-pages long, but Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said it became 33-pages after the font size was reduced.