Monday, April 13, 2015

Frivolous, vexatious, or trivial?

Just before FYI went down, someone submitted an OIA request asking whether ACT MP David Seymour was a hologram. Now that FYI is back up, the response has appeared, and the request has been declined on the basis that "the request is frivolous or vexatious or that the information requested is trivial". But which is it? And is the decline lawful? According to the Ombudsman's guidelines, in order to be declined under this clause,

a requester must be patently abusing the rights granted by the legislation for access to information, rather than exercising those rights in good faith.
By analogy with court processes, this means that the request must be so clearly frivolous that to put it forward would be an abuse of process, or such that no reasonable person could properly treat it as being made in good faith. But I'm not sure that that's the case. I mean, have you looked at Seymour?
And then he practically admits it:

So, maybe they're really refusing the request as trivial, because the answer is bloody obvious.

(And seriously, while we'd all like to think that its obvious that someone isn't a hologram, or indeed a "David Icke style shapeshifting reptilian alien ushering humanity towards enslavement", sometimes it isn't. For example, when the Prime Minister laughs off the Auckland housing crisis (which has no doubt added significantly to the value of his property portfolio). If the Prime Minister doesn't want people asking whether he's an alien here to destroy our way of life, maybe he shouldn't act like one so often).