Labour proposes Freedom of Information Office

Labour Party leader Andrew Little (Simon Wong)
Labour Party leader Andrew Little (Simon Wong)

Labour is suggesting a dedicated Freedom of Information Office might be needed to tackle the Government's cynical approach to releasing official information.

The Prime Minister has admitted sometimes waiting as long as possible to release information, and Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem says that's cavalier.

Labour leader Andrew Little says it's distressing and action is needed.

"Maybe we have to have a dedicated Freedom of Information Office that sets up robust processes and really calls ministers and government departments to account when information is not released properly," says Mr Little.

Dame Beverley also says ministers are refusing to release information purely because it's embarrassing to them, which isn't allowed under the Act.

Mr Little says appeals to the Ombudsman can take more than a year to resolve.

"They know they can keep information that is potentially embarrassing to them away from members of the Opposition or journalists or members of the public if they really wanted to do so, and they're doing that."

Dame Beverley says she's concerned unelected officials make these decisions, often only to preserve the reputation of their ministers.