Information and Meetings

The increased amount of information that is available quickly and inexpensively, has led to a corresponding increase in people wanting to access it. All public bodies have to balance a public presumption that information should be freely available, with the need to protect the privacy of individuals and commercial enterprises.

Whether you are the person wanting to access material or the entity holding the information, you need to understand what your rights and obligations are in respect of it. Some of the legislation that applies includes the Privacy Act 1993, the Protected Disclosures Act 2000, the Official Information Act 1982 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

In addition, public bodies are required to collect certain information or prepare information under a range of statutes including the Public Finance Act 1989, the Public Records Act 2005, and the Crown Entities Act 2004 (to name a few).

Another source of information is meetings held by public bodies such as local authorities. Not all of the matters discussed in these meetings are made public. While open government is desirable, sometimes practical considerations such as commercial sensitivity can trump this.

Brookfields can advise on whether particular information can or should be made publicly available and the relevant legislative procedure. We are experienced in dealing with complaints to the Ombudsmen and matters referred to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. We can help prevent any dispute with early intervention and advice. If a dispute is unavoidable we can outline strategies to get the best result.

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