Minister quiet on OIA fudging
Wed, 19 Dec 2012 10:02a.m.
Education Minister Hekia Parata is dodging questions on a new investigation into Christchurch school closures after it was revealed officials were lying to schools about what they knew.
Ombudsman David McGee will hold an investigation into the Ministry of Education's consultation processes early next year, following concerns inadequate information was available to schools and their communities before decisions were made.
That was highlighted by the ministry's rejection of some information requests on the grounds the information would eventually be made public.
The ministry also made an "inappropriate suggestion" to Christchurch City Council that it should refuse an Official Information Act (OIA) request on the basis that "the information requested is not held by the council" - which it knew was untrue.
Mr McGee, however, accepted it was a misunderstanding of the OIA legislation.
Ms Parata's office declined to comment on the report, released on Tuesday, and referred inquiries to her ministry.
In a statement, the ministry's deputy secretary, Katrina Casey, said Christchurch staff were being reminded of their obligations under the OIA.
Guidelines may need to be clearer about transfer of requests, she said.
Despite staff asking the council to lie about what it knew, the ministry "[had] a process to ensure full and effective consultation", she said.
Labour says the OIA fudging shows the National government has encouraged a "culture of secrecy and suspicion within the public service"
State services spokesman Chris Hipkins said Ms Parata and her ministry were trying to hide the true extent of their incompetent handling of rebuilding Christchurch schools.
"After all the botch-ups and stuff-ups National has had in the recent past, it's clear John Key and his government are simply shutting down the flow of information in order to avoid public scrutiny."
The Government initially intended closing four schools and merging 14 others but it has backtracked on some of those decisions after strong protest from parents and teachers.
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27/12/2012 8:17:40 a.m.
Not sure the PM can hear any of your protests at the moment cos he's got the sound system up loud and is fine tuning his gangnam styles.....This will no doubt be as effective in solving the MOE's woes as anything else this govt hasn't tried....Oppan Gangnam Style!! What a pathetic sad joke Jonkey and his self-serving cronies are turning out to be....I hope kiwis get as fired up about the incompetence of this govt as they have over a catchy Korean rap song....here's hoping.
19/12/2012 5:34:01 p.m.
Mr Crown wrote:
The organizational culture of the ministry directly reflects those at the top. And why is John key doing "Gangnam Style" its the relief of knowing Parata is now on her way out. This nonsense has got to stop!
19/12/2012 11:46:33 a.m.
Andy Wilson wrote:
This is typical of the current government. It appears that they do not want any public or professional advice. They know best (they do not and Parata is the worst). They simply do not any public scrutiny on issues. To be honest, this sort of secret activity reminds me of a political party in the 1940's. If Christchurch votes in any National Party member in the next election it will come quite as a shock. Where is the NZ we all love. Another agreement with Wiseacre today....you are public servants so listen to your people and not just the people who agree with your capitalist values like the business roundtable and Epsom.
19/12/2012 11:34:33 a.m.
At last the reality of this minister's dishonesty and deception is coming to light! My most recent letter from her includes a reference that it claims support the government's position - however when you read it it states the opposite stating that such strategies are 'counter productive'. If this is the case for Nat Standards it makes sense that they have no desire to be honest and open about other policies and activities.
19/12/2012 10:46:11 a.m.
The Education Minister dodging questions on why her Ministry is dodging questions? The Ministry even going so far as to suggest lying is a legitimate response to queries by the people of New Zealand.
Isn't it time Ministers in this National Government started fronting up to the people? Isn't it time Ministers in the National Government started being held to account? Lest they forget, Government Ministers are public servants - it is about time they started serving the public, rather than just serving themselves and their cronies.
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