6 October 2011
By international standards, New Zealand official information is readily available. Despite repeated criticism by New Zealand media about the reluctance of agencies to respond fully to information requests, newly released comparative research makes New Zealand look good.
The Ask Your Government! 6 Question Campaign has published a report on its survey of the effectiveness of freedom of information laws in 80 countries. New Zealand comes out in top place as the most responsive and timely jurisdiction.
The survey involved making six requests to governments for budget information and comparing the results. The same six questions were asked in each country, and a strict methodology was followed, in submitting the questions, resubmitting them, measuring response times and evaluating answers.
“There are a number of surprises in the findings. These include the fact that France is among the bottom achievers… Perhaps even more surprising is that only two of the 15 countries in the top group of countries – namely New Zealand and Germany – are Western democracies, while ten are newer democracies mostly from East and Central Europe along with South Africa and Namibia). “
The top spots ( from page 38 of the report ) are
Another study, published in conjunction with the Information Commissioners’ Conference in Ottawa is less rosy. An assessment of the “right to information” in 89 countries puts New Zealand among the middle runners in 28th place. As in the Ask Your Government survey, few countries with long established freedom of information laws score well. Of OECD countries, only Finland and UK rate better than New Zealand.