There was a win for transparency yesterday, after the Prime Minister and Cabinet approved the introduction of regular and proactive disclosure of the management of Ministerial conflicts of interests.
This decision came as a result of an investigation by the Chief Ombudsman after the Cabinet Office refused a series of OIA requests for this type of information.
Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverly Wakem argued that:
the degree of transparency necessary to maintain public trust and confidence can only be achieved by regular and proactive publication of a summary of actions taken when Ministerial conflicts of interest are identified.
New Zealanders have the right to information about how decisions are made and who is making those decisions. The OIA plays a fundamental part in upholding openness and democracy in New Zealand.
But, things shouldn’t always be left to the OIA, which requires people to actively seek out information – knowing what to ask for and how to do it. Proactive disclosure, on the part of decision-makers, is an important step towards true transparency.