English Caught Out Over Official Information Act Responses

Published: Tue 25 Aug 2015 05:42 PM
Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
Member of Parliament for Northland
25 AUGUST 2015
English Caught Out Over Official Information Act Responses
Finance Minister Bill English was caught out today in Parliament, proving the government is making a mockery of the Official Information Act.
“Mr English was all at sea and contradicted himself, but the facts are clear,” New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters said.
“On December 16, 2014 Mr English replied to a specific New Zealand First OIA request detailing the nature and month, that no documents existed between himself or his staff and Federated Farmers in March 2013.
“We gave the Minister every opportunity because we made a slightly different request for the same documents detailing the nature and month. On August 17 2015 Mr English replied, again saying that no such documents existed.
“However, this was not true.
“On March, 26, 2013 Mr English wrote to Federated Farmers saying there were no plans to establish a foreign land ownership registry. This is attached and came in response to a letter on 13 February 2013 from the then President, Bruce Wills, to establish a register of foreign ownership.
“These letters point to government abuse of the Official Information Act process,” says Mr Peters.
Question 12. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to theMinister of Finance : Does he stand by all his statements; if so, why?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, in the context in which they were made.
Rt Hon Winston Peters : Does he stand by his statement in a response letter to my Official Information Act request dated 17 August 2015 that “The documents alleged to contain the information requested do not exist.”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I cannot respond on the specific statement, because I do not know what he is referring to, but generally we would stand by the statements that I make in letters in response to the Official Information Act .
Rt Hon Winston Peters : If that is the case, then why do I have a copy of a letter, signed by him on 26 March 2013, to Federated Farmers that contradicts his statement that the documents do not exist and makes a mockery of the Official Information Act process?
Hon BILL ENGLISH : I do not know the answer to that question. We endeavour to comply at all times with the Official Information Act. In fact, in my office and in Treasury we are probably among the more proactive releasers of public information in the whole Public Service.

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