Minister flouts OIA law

The Herald reports:

Minister for Courts William Sio has been found to have acted “contrary to law” over his office’s handling of an Official Information Act request.

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier also raised concern that the minister’s office did not understand how parts of the OIA worked.

So either the Minister and his staff chose to break the law, or they are so stupid they don’t understand it.

The judgment on Sio came after an OIA request to his office in January last year.

The Minister’s office sought an extension, which it could under the law, and then sought to extend again, and then again and even again after that with the eventual response landing in May.

Boshier found the three subsequent extensions were not options under the law.

Four months for a response due by law within 20 days.

Sio had been asked to respond within five days and did not, Boshier’s finding stated. Sio eventually wrote back 11 days after being contacted by Boshier, acknowledging a failure to communicate a decision but also saying he intended to again extend the response time.

The Minister ignored the Chief Ombudsman and took over two weeks to respond to him.

OIA researcher Andrew Ecclestone said the explanations behind the delay were ignorance or a deliberate action.

“It is unacceptable 39 years after the law was passed that we have a minister’s office that doesn’t know how to use the extension provisions properly.”

This is very basic stuff.

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