Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Unimpressed II

Back in April, the government announced that Cabinet had signed off on its proposed anti-"boy racer" laws. Naturally, I requested the relevant Cabinet papers from the responsible Minister. The decision had been made, the papers existed, so I didn't expect any serious problems getting them. Unfortunately, I was dealing with Judith Collins - a Minister who has already shown her contempt for the OIA. She waited until the end of her 20 working day response period, then told me she was extending it until 22 May for research, collation and consultation.

That excuse is believable in some circumstances - e.g. when they have to dig through the archives for material from five years ago. But for papers she had recently taken to Cabinet? Those documents are at her fingertips; the only decision she had to make was what to withhold. Or rather, how to prevent release (and thus analysis or criticism of the government's policy) until after the government had introduced the legislation...

I am, once again, unimpressed. Time for another complaint to the Ombudsmen. It won't result in my getting the information any sooner - it should already be in the post - but hopefully it will result in the Minister being firmly educated on what is and is not acceptable practice in handling OIA requests.