Fuseworks Media

Ministry of Justice wrong to keep public in the dark on proposed OIA law changes

The Free Speech Union calls on the Ministry of Justice to be transparent and foster open dialogue when changing laws affecting the Official Information Act (OIA). We echo the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties’ concerns that selecting a small number of targeted organisations to consult on changes is not in keeping with the intent of the OIA, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

“Earlier this month, the Ministry of Justice opened consultation on improving scrutiny of proposed laws that exempt information or agencies from the OIA. But ironically, they only invited four non-government organisations to submit.

“The OIA is meant to protect our right to access information, which is a crucial feature of free speech, so we ought to know when proposals are made to change clauses. The public should have a right to submit to this consultation and participate in this policy discussion.

“Freedoms of speech and conscience rely on the ability to access information freely. The OIA needs to be a reliable resource for New Zealanders to ensure their participation in a functioning democracy. It should simply be assumed that the public is consulted when changes are proposed related to public transparency.

“For the OIA to work, we need to be able to trust it. Lack of transparency will not lead to this. We call on the Ministry of Justice to open the consultation to the public and allow all parties interested in these changes to submit.”

 

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