Advice on drug-testing jobseekers

Alex Harris made this Official Information request to Ministry of Social Development

The request was refused by Ministry of Social Development.

From: Alex Harris

Dear Ministry of Social Development,

On July 1, Finance Minister Bill English announced that the unemployed would face drug testing in order to receive benefits ("English confirms drug tests for job seekers", TVNZ, 1 July 2012). I would like to request the following information under the Official Information Act 1982:

* all documents (including advice, briefings, aides memoire, cabinet papers, emails, notes etc) relating to this policy. I am particularly interested in information about the cost of the policy, and on complaince with the Bill of Rights Act.

I would prefer to receive an electronic response. Queries about this request will be automatically forwarded to me by the fyi.org.nz website.

With regards to s12 of the OIA, I am an NZ citizen and in NZ.

Yours faithfully,

Alex Harris

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From: OIA_Requests (MSD)
Ministry of Social Development

Dear Alex Harris

Thank you for your email received 2 July 2012, under the Official Information Act 1982. Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate officials at National office to respond. You may expect a response to be sent to you as soon as possible.

Regards
Official and Parliamentary Information team | Ministerial and Executive Services
Ministry of Social Development

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From: Tanya Howlett
Ministry of Social Development


Attachment Harris Alex Final Response dated 1 August 2012.pdf
56K Download View as HTML


Dear Alex

Please find attached the Ministry's response to your Official Information Act request concerning drug testing of beneficiaries.

Kind regards

Tanya Howlett

Tanya Howlett
Manager, Official and Parliamentary Information
Ministry of Social Development
Ph: 916 3638 Internal extn: 42638

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From: Alex Harris

Dear Ministry of Social Development,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Ministry of Social Development's handling of my FOI request 'Advice on drug-testing jobseekers'.

You have refused the request on the basis of s9(2)(f)(iv), which protects the constitutional convention which protects, for the time being, the confidentiality of advice tendered by Ministers of the Crown and officials. As the Ombudsman's practice guidelines make clear, this section applies only to _advice_. It does not apply to factual information (for example, any information on the problem the policy seeks to address e.g. how many beneficiaries are drug addicts anyway?). As the Ombudsman makes clear,

"Advice that is purely factual in nature or comprises bare options, as opposed to opinions offered or recommendations made as to future action, can often be disclosed without pre-empting the ability of Ministers or Cabinet to deliberate on the advice received"

So, I'm asking that you review the material and release this sort of information.

Secondly, the provision applies only until a decision has been reached. I'm seeking your assurance that Cabinet has made no decisions on this. If not, then I'd like you to release those portions of advice relating to the decisions Cabinet has made.

Finally, given the admitted public interest in this issue, I'm wondering whether you would proactively release this material the moment a decision has been made by Cabinet. Doing so would likely save you the hassle of dealing with future requests form interested parties (of whom I imagine you must have quite a few).

I'm looking forward to your response.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://fyi.org.nz/request/advice_on_drug...

Yours faithfully,

Alex Harris

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From: Alex Harris

Dear Tanya Howlett,

Its been two weeks and I haven't had an acknowledgement of my request for reconsideration. Do I need to escalate this to the Ombudsman?

Yours sincerely,

Alex Harris

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From: Tanya Howlett
Ministry of Social Development

Dear Alex

Thank you for your emails.

The Ministry does not typically undertake reviews of responses to Official
Information Act requests, unless it is at the behest of the Ombudsman.

However, the response to your request has been reviewed and and it is
appropriate.

If you wish to have the Ministry's response reviewed by the Ombudsman, you
can contact the Office of the Ombudsman at the following address:

The Ombudsman

Office of the Ombudsman

PO Box 10-152

WELLINGTON 6143

Please note that you should direct any future emails to the
[email address] email address, as this address will not be active
from tomorrow (31 August 2012).

Regards

 

Tanya Howlett
Manager, Official and Parliamentary Information
Ministry of Social Development
Ph: 916 3638 Internal extn: 42638

 

------------------------------- This email and any attachments may contain
information that is confidential and subject to legal privilege. If you
are not the intended recipient, any use, dissemination, distribution or
duplication of this email and attachments is prohibited. If you have
received this email in error please notify the author immediately and
erase all copies of the email and attachments. The Ministry of Social
Development accepts no responsibility for changes made to this message or
attachments after transmission from the Ministry.
-------------------------------

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Gavin Millar left an annotation () %>

Unfortunately it sounds like you'll have to take this to the Ombudsmen to get MSD to follow the rules.

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