Friday, March 25, 2011


The Herald reports that the Auckland SuperCouncil is refusing to release background papers on its proposed funding arrangements for the Maori Statutory Board. Their reasons?

"The principal reasons being that it is material that is currently a matter for proceedings in the High Court and/or relates to commercially sensitive information," said council public information manager Bruce Thomas.
This is unlawful. The Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 does not allow for information to be withheld because of an ongoing non-criminal court case. Legal advice is protected, but ordinary information does not suddenly become secret simply because it has become the subject of a dispute. And how can an agreement between one statutory body and another over non-commercial activities possibly be regarded as "commercially sensitive"?

The Auckland Council cannot be allowed to get away with such an abuse of the law to avoid its statutory disclosure obligations. The Herald should be taking this to the Ombudsman ASAP.