Commanding of Carrier Strike Group - RIMPAC 2022

Valerie Morse made this Official Information request to New Zealand Defence Force

The request was successful.

From: Valerie Morse

Dear New Zealand Defence Force,

Please advise:

1. The ranks and total number of NZDF personnel embarking on the USS Mobile Bay as part of RIMPAC 2022

2. The composition of the Carrier Strike Group commanded by NZDF : including number and type of ships, aircraft, submarines, soldiers (and any other assets used) and nationalities of the same.

Ngā mihi
Valerie Morse

Yours faithfully,

Valerie Morse

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From: Ministerial Services
New Zealand Defence Force

Attachment OIA 2022 4451 signed response.pdf
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Good afternoon Valerie Morse

Please find attached the response to your questions about RIMPAC.

Kind regards

Corporate and Ministerial Services
Office of the Chief of Defence Force
New Zealand Defence Force

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Mark Hanna left an annotation ()

I wonder precisely how the NZDF considers that releasing the ranks of the seven personnel aside from the captain that embarked on the USS Mobile Bay during RIMPAC 2022 would be likely to prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand. I can't see any clear way in which this could be the case.

The Ombudsman's guideline on section 6 refusals is clear that a bare assertion like this is not sufficient to justify such a refusal:

"It is not sufficient to simply assert that disclosure of the information will have a prejudicial effect. The public sector agency must be able to identify, with sufficient particularity, the nature of the prejudicial effect and explain how such prejudice will occur in order to meet the tests for withholding in section 6."

You might consider lodging a complaint with the Ombudsman over this refusal. At the very least, it should force NZDF to clarify their reasons for the refusal.

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Scott left an annotation ()

Looks like you were right to question NZDF's decision Mark, because they've gone ahead and published this information anyway:

The 7 other Navy personnel are identified by name and rank in a photo caption on page 10 of the latest Navy magazine:

"CDR Andy Hunt, CAPT Steve Lenik, CDR Kane Sutherland, LT Jodi Greenhalgh, LTCDR Christiaan Robertson, LT Nikita Leeks, LT Simon Hollingsworth and LT Shauna Bradley"

So much for prejudice to security!

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Mark Hanna left an annotation ()

Thanks for finding that, Scott. Makes it seem pretty abundantly clear that NZDF, and specifically AJ Woods, broke the law in their response to this request.

Even though the information is now public, Valerie I hope you will stil consider laying a complaint with the Ombudsman. Unfortunately you're the only person with standing to complain, and though the OIA holds no consequences for this sort of unlawful behaviour I still think it would at least be useful to bring it to the attention of the Ombudsman.

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