Free and Frank: Making the Official Information Act 1982 work better
The New Zealand Official Information Act 1982 is frequently hailed as one of this country’s most significant constitutional reforms. It is praised as world-leading in its refusal to contemplate that any category of government information might be completely immune from the prospect of public disclosure.
But for those who work with the Act, either as seekers of information or as officials responding to requests, it is not an unqualified good - the working reality of the Act can be frustrating and time-consuming, just as often as it is enlightening.
This book follows a two-year research project into the day-to-day operation of the Act. It examines the history of the Act’s passage and subsequent development and reports the candid views of (anonymised) officials, politicians, academics, political advisers and ‘regular seekers’ of Official Information.
The result is a ‘free and frank’ picture of the operation of administrative and political processes around Official Information. It carries a sobering message about how those process, if not well-managed, can erode trust in government across time.
But the picture is not all bleak. The book concludes with proposals for change designed to build on the very real strengths of the system, to help it cope with the challenges of modern politics and the information age.
A review of this book by Wellington barrister John Edwards appeared in LawTalk in April 2008 and is available to read here: http://ips.ac.nz/events/commentary/
Published in November 2007
Paperback: $35.80 (add to basket)