Advisory Group notes meeting subject to OIA, stops taking minutes

A Ministerial Advisory group met once, noted its meeting minutes were subject to the Official Information Act (OIA), then stopped taking minutes in further meetings.

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran set up the Ministerial Advisory Group in February to investigate establishing a Public Media Funding Commission.

Documents released to Opposition MP Melissa Lee under the OIA show the group decided to "not keep minutes for its further meetings" after meeting for the first time on 27 February.

The minutes for that February meeting show early on in the meeting, "The MAG (Ministerial Advisory Group) noted it is subject to the Official Information Act."

A screenshot of the minute recorded.
A screenshot of the minute recorded. Photo credit: Screengrab/Newshub.

After that meeting, there are no more minutes recorded.

In a letter attached to Ms Lee's request for the minutes of all meetings to 23 May, the Secretariat Colin Holden notes there is only one set of minutes enclosed, because "the Group subsequently decided not to keep minutes for its further meetings."

Ms Lee says it's appalling.

"It says a lot about transparency and open government that she promised. Definitely not one of those, is it?," Ms Lee told Newshub.

"They are dealing with $16 million of the Minister's budget.

"They are going to be deciding what will be funded in the public media sector and there's no record. It's got to be a breach."

In the House, Ms Curran said she was not aware of a decision to stop taking minutes.

"I'm not aware of that, but what I would say is that that ministerial advisory group has provided reports to the minister, which will be provided in due course, publicly," Ms Curran said.

She said she will be loooking into the matter.

The February meeting was attended by Paul James, Chief Executive of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (who left after 45 minutes), by Michael Stiassny, Irene Gardiner, Josh Easby, Sandi Beatie (who arrived after the OIA was discussed), Mr Holden, Nerissa Barber and Martin Durrant.