1 October 2013

The Open Government Partnership blog showed satisfaction when the Prime Minister said that New Zealand would commit to the OGP by the end of the year.  That would make New Zealand member number 61.  Steven Price on his media law journal scoffs at the report that the Prime Minister was accepting a British invitation to join. The OGP of course is an international organisation and all countries meeting its membership conditions are encouraged to join.  But  Mr Key was in Britain as a guest of the British Government (and the Monarch) and UK is co chair this year of the OGP, which makes joining at the British behest diplomatically advantageous. On measures specified by the OGP New Zealand scores full marks – 16 from 16 criteria – so there is no stretch required to “join up”.

In the UK an irony is that the open government may not be all it is claimed to be, The Scottish Government scores more poorly than any organisation in Scotland in complying with freedom of information laws.

In 2012 there were 1,900 requests across all agencies with about 70% responded to within the required 20 days, but many agencies do not respond to requests as required.  The proportion of appeals against Government agencies has almost doubled to 31% in two years (local government accounts for 43% of appeals). Fewer than half of Scots are confident they would get a timely response to an information request.

Closer to home there is also disgruntlement. The Prime Minister commented that the OGP reflects New Zealand’s values, but he has not responded to calls for openness regarding the terms of the Trans Pacific Partnership to which New Zealanders are also likely be committed by the year’s end.