Travel Expenses Dr John Lewis Collier Specialist Psychiatrist

Anthony Jordan made this Official Information request to Accident Compensation Corporation

The request was successful.

From: Anthony Jordan

Dear Accident Compensation Corporation,

Thank you for your recent reply to an Official Information Act request, dated 20 March 2013 relating to Expenses for a:

Dr John Lewis Collier Ltd
(Company details January 2013)
Registered Office:
11 Firth Street
Hamilton
New Zealand

Address for service:
11 Firth Street
Hamilton
New Zealand

In light of your response dated 9 April 2013, does the Accident Compensation Corporation have an Independent Accredited/Contracted registered medical professional by the name Dr John Lewis Collier?

Please disclose the following information where possible

1) Travel Expenses and related costs for travel from 2003 to date charged to or paid for by the ACC

2) Duration Dr John Lewis Collier has been a Independent Assessor/Contracted provider for the ACC

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Jordan

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From: Anna Mildenhall
Accident Compensation Corporation


Attachment Advice of extension 7May13.pdf
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Good morning Mr Jordan
 
Please find attached a letter advising an extension of time to respond to
your request.
 
Regards
Anna Mildenhall
 

     
Anna Mildenhall, Senior Advisor, Government Services, ACC 
 
ACC cares about the environment – please don’t print this email
unless it is really necessary. Thank you.

 

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From: Anna Mildenhall
Accident Compensation Corporation


Attachment ACC s response 10 May 13.pdf
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Good morning Mr Jordan
 
Please find attached ACC's response to your request for information
relating to Dr Collier's travel expenses.
 
Regards
Anna Mildenhall
 

     
Anna Mildenhall, Senior Advisor, Government Services, ACC 
 
ACC cares about the environment – please don’t print this email
unless it is really necessary. Thank you.

 

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From: Anthony Jordan

Dear Anna Mildenhall,

Thankyou for latest disclosure dated 10 May 2013. You will please forgive any antagonistic or cynical tone to this correspondence.

It would appear the ACC are somewhat evasive in their motives where providing public fund expenditure of Dr Colliers affairs within the ACC, whom I will draw to your attention the following facts.

John Collier is listed in the New Zealand Companies register as been a Ltd company of 11 Firth Street, we can only assume given this is the address for Service and Registered Office that the ACC would be well aware of this?

If John Collier carries out work for the ACC at 100 Clarence Street (this is questionable as he did close this private practice beginning 2008,the state of the premisses and grounds would suggest it remains 'unused') or on the premises of 11 Firth Street wouldn't this suggest he remains in private practice? (remembering reasons for non disclosure of income with previous requests is based on closure and ACC been sole source of income).

It is evident the declining of disclosing Travel Expenses based on John Colliers ACC activities around New Zealand reinforces the ACC's lack of will to be transparent in its dealings with Public Funds.

I would like this request reviewed and challenge the ACC to liaise with a local MP in Rotorua and disclose to that MP what you deem 'private'.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Jordan

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From: Anna Mildenhall
Accident Compensation Corporation

Good afternoon Mr Jordan

ACC's decision to withhold personal information relating to Dr Collier remains in place.

As advised in ACC's letter of 30 April 2013;
In the past ACC has released some personal information about assessors when it believed that releasing the information was in the public interest. Assessors subsequently told ACC that the publication of their names has resulted in harassment and threats, including death threats and threats against their families. As a result, ACC will not put the safety of assessors at risk by publishing their personal information.

If you're dissatisfied with ACC's response you have the right to make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Regards
Anna Mildenhall

Anna Mildenhall, Senior Advisor, Government Services

ACC cares about the environment - please don't print this email
unless it is really necessary. Thank you.

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Luke left an annotation ()

1. In ACC’s response of 10 May 2013, they state that they will provide information about “payments made to medical providers” because it concerns the “expenditure of public funds”. Yet they do not provide the same information (“travel expenses and related costs”) that ACC has paid to an individual person, despite the fact that is the same public funds. This seems inconsistent.

2. In their 14 May 2013 email, they state that the information at question (travel expenses and related costs) is “personal information”. It may be “personal information” in the sense that it relates to a person, but the justification for withholding is not that it is personal information, but that withholding is “necessary” (in terms of the act) to protect the doctor’s privacy. I fail to see how the withholding of “travel expenses and related costs” is necessary to protect his privacy. He is carrying out a public function with public money; that is not private, and neither should the expenditure.

3. Despite the fact that, in their 14 May 2013 email, they provide some explanation as to why they withhold “personal information” because of the safety of its assessors, I do not see how releasing details of “travel expenses and related costs” would engender threats or endanger his safety. If there is a clear link, then section 6(d) would be the appropriate withholding ground. However this is perhaps a higher test because ACC would need to show that such prejudice was “likely” (in terms of the Act), i.e. a “serious or real and substantial risk to a protected interest, a risk that might well eventuate” (Ombudsman’s practice guidelines)

4. In their 14 May 2013 email, they also say that the publication of the “names” of assessors has resulted in “harassment and threats”. The name of Dr Collier is already public by virtue of your request, so I do not see how publication of his name alone, would be likely to result in harm to him.

1. In respect of your email to ACC dated 10 May 2013, you say that “I would like this request reviewed and challenge the ACC to liaise with a local MP in Rotorua and disclose to that MP what you deem 'private'.” I find this an odd request to make. Firstly, it is outside the bounds of the Act. Secondly, it is not appropriate for you to “challenge” the ACC to release “ ‘private’ ” information to an MP. ACC have been found to have inadvertently released private information, are making changes to their information management practices to actually keep private information, private.

I would question why you think ACC would even contemplate the idea of releasing private information to an MP. This is something a constituent would do, but not a government agency.

2. ACC’s advice that you are welcome to make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman is indeed the correct action for you to take. If you do require this information, then you should consider pursuing that course of action, being aware that timeframes for completing complaints can take months (3-5).

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Anthony Jordan left an annotation ()

Hi Luke
Many thanks for taking the time to post an annotation. I have to admit to not been a pro on these sort of matters and can get side-tracked on a subject etc. when making a request etc. In reference to the 10 may 2013 comment of;

I would like this request reviewed and challenge the ACC to liaise
with a local MP in Rotorua and disclose to that MP what you deem
'private'. (i.e. reference to Travel Costs as ACC deemed this private)

If what I am hearing is if the ACC in their sincere truthfulness feel it is most certainly private information, yes it would be unlawful to disclose to the likes of an MP etc. However because all these declined decisions are subjective on the ACC’s part and no other government agency to oversee the initial ACC official information act replies before posting, the ACC certainly have the upper hand in controlling time delays and the like.

Where information is sought to compliment an accumulation of other documents to compile and put forward an allegation etc. to appropriate agencies/councils these obstructions and delays can have severe consequence’s to those people suffering should allegation’s be correct.

The ombudsmen’s office has proven to be a fruitless option where obtaining answers and any type of resolve. E.g. an application was made in November 2011 to Ombudsmen’s office, this still hasn't been sorted and paperwork in my possession is evident the ACC have mislead the Ombudsmen.

Kind Regards and Welcome further opinion
Anthony

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Luke left an annotation ()

There was a delay in the sense that they took until the 20th day to notify you that ACC were extending the timeframe by ten working days to answer your request. But their response came less than that; it came three days later. So while it did take just over a month, the actions were compliant with the Act.

I now understand your rateionale for why you challenged ACC to release to a local MP, the information it deemed private. However the appropriate oversight of a public agency’s administrative handling of official information request, and more broadly an agency’s internal processes, is the domain of the Ombudsman (or in some cases the Office of the Auditor General). It would not be appropriate for an MP to review or assess the decision made by ACC. An MP however may receive information given to him/her by a constituent, and the MP may then write to the Minister or Ministry on behalf of the constituent asking for the Minister/Ministry to deal with the constituent’s issue.

I accept that there are delays in the Office of the Ombudsman resolving OIA complaints, due to resource constraints. This is undesirable for the requester and the agency. Justice delayed is justice denied.

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From: Anna Mildenhall
Accident Compensation Corporation


Attachment ACC further response to Mr Jordan 13 Sept 13.pdf
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Good afternoon Mr Jordan
 
Please find attached ACC's further response to your request of 9 April
2013.
 
Regards
Anna Mildenhall
 

       
Anna Mildenhall, Senior Advisor, ACC
  ACC / Government Services / Justice Centre - Level 7
  PO Box 242 / Wellington 6011 / New Zealand / www.acc.co.nz
 
  ACC cares about the environment – please don’t print this email
    unless it is really necessary. Thank you.

 

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