Policy and other advice given to current and former Prime Ministers on Foreign Trusts

Jason Brown made this Official Information request to Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The request was refused by Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

From: Jason Brown

Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

I am seeking digital copies of contemporary and historic policy and other advice given to current and former Prime Ministers on the foreign trust regime of New Zealand.

Under Section 12 (3) of the Official Information Act, I am seeking urgency as this relates to official New Zealand support for Ms. Helen Clark as a candidate for Secretary General of the United Nations.

Given global corruption estimates ranging from $11 to $32 trillion hidden via foreign trusts, it is important that questions regarding policy advice to Clark be given proper airing as the UN Security Council considers the next SG.

http://www.1for7billion.org/news/2015/9/...

I am a permanent resident of New Zealand, and reside in New Zealand, as per the OIA section above.

Yours faithfully,

Jason Brown

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From: Information [DPMC]
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Dear Mr Brown

Thank you for your email of 21 July 2016 (copied below). This email is to acknowledge the receipt of your request by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) and to confirm that we are treating your request as a request for information under the Official Information Act 1982 and will get back to you as soon as reasonably practicable, but in any case within the 20 working day deadline set by that Act.

Kind regards

Ministerial Coordinator
Office of the Chief Executive

The information contained in this email message is for the attention of the intended recipient only and is not necessarily the official view or communication of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, copy or distribute this message or the information in it. If you have received this message in error, please destroy the email and notify the sender immediately.
[UNCLASSIFIED]
 

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From: Information [DPMC]
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


Attachment image001.gif
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Attachment 3861904 Policy and other advice given to current and former Prime Ministers on Foreign Trusts.PDF.pdf
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[UNCLASSIFIED]

 

Please find attached a scanned copy of the reply to your recent Official
Information Act request to the Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet (DPMC).

 

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Jason Brown left an annotation ()

The following is a plain-text OCR of the PDF response from the DPMC:

"
DEPARTMENT of the PRIME MINISTER and CABINET
16 AUG 2016
Jason Brown
Email: fvi-request-4289-a7f77ed8@requests.fyi.orq.nz
Reference: OlA1617FY0036

Dear Jason Brown

Official Information Act Request Relating to Policy Advice on Foreign Trusts

I refer to your Official Information Act request received on 21 July 2016 which asked for former Prime Ministers on the foreign trust regime of New Zealand. "digital copies of contemporary and historic policy and other advice given to current and former Prime Ministers on the foreign trust regime of New Zealand."

The only information identified as being relevant to your request are briefings provided by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) to the current Prime Minister. These briefings are provided to the Prime Minister in confidence, in order to support him in his role as leader of the Government and chair of Cabinet. These briefings are withheld in their entirety under the following sections of the Official Information Act:

Section 9(2)(f)(iv) as withholding the information is necessary to "maintain the constitutional conventions for the time being which protect the confidentiality of advice tendered by Ministers of the Crown and officials."

Section 9(2)(g)(i) as withholding the information is necessary to "maintain the effective conduct of public affairs through the free and frank expression of opinions by or between or to Ministers of the Crown or members of an organisation or officers and employees of any depattment or organisation in the course of their duty."

No public interest in releasing the information that has been withheld has been identified that would be sufficient to override the reasons for withholding it.

You are entitled to ask the Ombudsman to review this response under section 28(3) of the
Official Information Act.

You can contact the Ombudsman online via the Ombudsman website, by email (info@ombudsman.parliament.nz) or by post to The Ombudsman, PO Box 10152, Wellington 6143. Further details can be found on the Ombudsman website at: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz.
Yours sincerely
Anneliese Parkin
Deputy Chief Executive, Policy
Executive Wing, Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
64 4 817 9700 Facsimile: 64 4 472 3181 www.dpmc.govt.nz

"

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Jason Brown left an annotation ()

Appointment of a new Ombudsman led to hopes for a more vigorous challenge to government information request refusals.

This has yet to materialise on matters of consequence, especially in areas of high corruption.

In this case, a complaint to the Ombudsman took ten months to gain a response, including a failure to respond to a follow up letter of inquiry.

Yet when I sought to make a response outside of their self-mandated 20 day period (a timeframe for which the office of Ombudsman was unable to produce any supporting legislation), my request was refused.

This is despite the very same Ombudsman declaring that official advice should not be kept secret after decisions have been made.

Here we have a foreign trust regime established under former Prime Minister Helen Clark in 2009 and that advice is still not made available to the public.

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Luke left an annotation ()

Has the Ombudsman issued a final opinion on this case and what was that opinion?

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Jason Brown left an annotation ()

@Luke

Yes, the request remained refused.
Will upload relevant correspondence for future review.
Sorry for long delay.

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Jason Brown left an annotation ()

...

Here's a plain text copy (and paste) :

. . .

Letter from the Chief Ombudsman regarding OIA investigation, our ref: 435929
Gareth Derby

Wed 23/08/2017, 9:33 AM
Dear Mr Brown Please find attached correspondence from the Chief Ombudsman. Kind regards Gareth Derby Senior Investigator Office of the Ombudsman | Tari o te Kaitiaki Mana Tangata DDI 04 460 9701 | Phone 04 473 9533 | Fax 04 471 2254 Email Gareth.Derby@ombudsman.parliament.nz
[Draft]
This message hasn't been sent.
Saved: Mon 28/08/2017, 10:11 PM
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Saved: Tue 29/08/2017, 12:26 PM
Jason Brown
Tue 29/08/2017, 12:31 PM
. . .

Peter Bouchier
Ombudsman

re: fairness for all?

Dear Mr. Bouchier,

thank you for your letter of 23 August 2017, regarding my complaint against the DPMC for refusing my OIA request. I agree that I may have some misunderstanding of the processes and role of your office.

I note, however, that your response fails to address my central question:

I am again asking that a response be made to that question. For the sake of clarity, I'll repeat it here:

"Could you please advise whether the deadline of 21st June 2017 for making further comments to this correspondence is mandated by law?"

Emphasis added.

And if there is applicable law, what part of the act or other regulation applies, specifically, including for any "final" opinion from yourself as Ombudsman?

I have searched the Official Information Act and am unable to find or discern an answer to those questions.

If you are unable to supply any legal basis for your deadline, or making "final" opinions without response from the complainant, then I seek to dispute your findings.

Most notably, I refer to your statement of 19th August 2016 that:

"... the section 9(2)(f)(iv) interest is time bound; usually there is no basis to withhold the actual advice once decisions have been taken."

Given that Foreign Trust laws were initiated under a previous administration, and that royal assent was given to amendments under the current administration by February this year, I am left confused as to why this advice cannot be released under reasons given by the DPMC.

You confidently state that there is no evidence of corruption within the documents sought, in which case there is even less reason that their release might impact upon the need for confidentiality to protect "free and frank" advice.

Finally, your office urges "fairness for all" yet refuses to show similar patience as a complainant, forcing a response in two weeks compared to the ten months it took to get an initial finding.

This is manifestly unfair, and, without any evidence of legal backing for either the timeframe or finality, risks a failure of due or at least fair process.

Cordially,

jason

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