Official Information (Eligibility Of Requesters) Amendment Bill

Official Information (Eligibility of Requesters) Amendment Bill

Member's Bill

Explanatory Note

The Official Information Act allows people to scrutinise and review the actions of government and is a vital tool for ensuring accountability. However, the right to request information under the Act (and to request the Ministry of Justice's Directory of Official Information, as well as internal rules affecting decisions and reasons for decisions about a person) is limited to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, or people in New Zealand. This is out of step with international best-practice (which does not impose citizenship or residency requirements on requesters), inconsistent with other New Zealand law (e.g. the Privacy Act 1993 and Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987). It has also increasingly been used as a barrier to requests, with requests for sensitive information frequently being met with demands for the requester to prove their eligibility. This is contrary to the spirit and intent of the Act.

In 2012, the Law Commission reviewed the Act, and recommended that the eligibility requirements be amended to provide that any person (whether a citizen of New Zealand, resident in New Zealand or otherwise) can make a request for information. This bill implements that recommendation.

Official Information (Eligibility of Requesters) Amendment Bill

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1. Title
This Act is the Official Information (Eligibility of Requesters) Amendment Act 2018.

2. Commencement
This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it received the Royal Assent.

3. Principal Act Amended
This Act amends the Official Information Act 1982.

4. Section 12 Amended (Requests)
Replace section 12(1) with:
"Any person may request a department or Minister of the Crown or organisation to make available to that person any specified official information."

5. Section 21 Amended (Right of access to certain official information)
Replace section 21(2) with:
"Every person has a right to and shall, on request made under this subsection, be given access to any category of official information that is declared by regulations made under this Act to be a category of official information in respect of which a right of access exists."

6. Section 22 Amended (Right of access to internal rules affecting decisions)
Repeal section 22(2).

7. Section 23 Amended (Right of access by person to reasons for decisions affecting that person)
Repeal section 23(2).

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