This is the final instalment in the ministerial profiles as part of The Right to Know series, in which the adequacy of Ministers responses to Official Information Act requests are put under scrutiny.
And we saved, if not the best, one of the worst, till last. Hon Gerry Brownlee, Leader of the House, Minister of Transport, Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission responded to our request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013 with a fairly upfront account.
The redacted spread sheet included in his response allowed my team and I to distil some interesting conclusions. But there are a few caveats. The number of requests responded to after the 20 workings day time limit does not include extended requests as noted in the log. We have treated requests equally if they were late by two days or two months for the purposes of graphing, if you want specific lengths of time please do go and look at the original document.
You’ll also note we haven’t bothered to graph the requestors here although we do give Gerry credit for including some information about these in his spread sheet. We deemed it pointless to try to analyse these due to the lack of differentiation between MPs from political parties which would have made the data highly inaccurate.
So, have a look for yourselves: Feel free to offer rankings/make comparisons in the comments now we have profiled all the Ministers.
In my assessment these results are appalling. Just 34% of the total number of OIAs received were answered within 20 days.
Subtract transfers and extensions and it is still only 54% of all OIAs answered on time!
Bear in mind Mr Brownlee did not provide us with any information in order to differentiate between full release responses, partial releases or declines.
We’ve all read about the trials and tribulations Christchurch residents have had trying to extract information from the EQC, including the proposal of a charge of $24,000 on the Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network of Canterbury (WECAN) for a response to their OIA request.
Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove intervened and we are still hopeful those community members will get access to what they seek.
But with Ministers like Gerry Brownlee (or any of the 22 others we’ve profiled) setting the example, is it reasonable for Kiwis to think our Government is transparent and accountable? And if not, what do we need to do about it?
Stay tuned folks as this series will be continuing with a look at how our Ministries and Government departments respond to OIA requests coming up next.
I hope you agree that the data contained in these posts is important to build a picture of just how responsive and accountable our government representatives are to lawful requests for information.