Official Information may get easier to access

Official Information may get easier to access

The Chief Ombudsman has slammed the Prime Minister for delay tactics of releasing official information.

Dame Beverley Wakem says she intends to introduce a new set of standards covering Official Information Act (OIA) releases, as part of a major review.

Thomas Jefferson once said "information is the currency of democracy", but it's not always easy to get information.

Prime Minister John Key has previously admitted his office uses delaying tactics in releasing official information. Dame Beverley told The Nation that's unacceptable.

"There's a disregard for the law," she says.

Information can be accessed from the Government and its agencies under the OIA. They must respond within 20 working days, but several examples have shown that is not always the case.

Emails released in book Dirty Politics showed blogger Cameron Slater was given preferential treatment for released information.

This week the High Court found Trade Minister Tim Groser unlawful by refusing to release details about the TPP trade agreement requested under the Act.

3D waited two years for information from Auckland police on burglary statistics.

A complaint to the Ombudsman's office has been with it for a year.

"We're only human; we do the best we can with the resources, and the times are improving," says Dame Beverley.

A spokesperson for Mr Key said in a statement today the Chief Ombudsman's comments were surprising as she had not raised these matters directly with him.

Dame Beverley admits she hasn't spoken to Mr Key directly about the issue, but says she likely will as part of the ongoing review.

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