Office of the Ombudsman
Our ref 518143 (Complaint ground: 518146)
Contact Josh Logan
18 December 2019
Mr Ken Orr
Right To Life New Zealand Inc
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr Orr
Complaint against the Minister of Health
I refer to your correspondence of 9 December 2019, in which you raise concerns about a recent request for information you made under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA).
It appears that you are concerned with the decision of the Minister of Health to transfer your request to the Ministry of Justice. You were advised that this was on the basis that the information you are seeking ‘appears to be more closely related with the functions and responsibility of the Minister of Justice’ (section 14(b)(ii) of the OIA refers).
While I acknowledge your frustration at the Minister’s decision to transfer your request, this is not a matter that the Chief Ombudsman is able to investigate.
Sections 28 and 35 of the OIA describe the Ombudsman’s functions under the OIA. These functions provide the Ombudsman with authority to ‘investigate and review’ any decision made by a Minister or agency which:
- refuses to make official information available to any person in response to a valid request;
- decides in what manner a request is to be granted, or what charge is to made for the release of information;
- imposes conditions on the use, communication or publication of information made available in response to a valid request;
- refuses to confirm or deny the existence of information under section 10 of the Act; and
- extends the time limit for providing a response to a valid request.
You will observe that the OIA does not provide an Ombudsman with authority to investigate complaints about the transfer of a request for official information.
As you may know, there are rules in the OIA regarding the transfer of requests, and under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, and an Ombudsman may investigate a complaint that these rules have been transgressed. However, Ministers of the Crown are not subject to the Ombudsmen Act 1975 and an Ombudsman therefore has no jurisdiction to investigate such a complaint where it is made in relation to the transfer of a request by a Minister.
For the reasons above, the Chief Ombudsman is unable to investigate your concerns about the Minister’s decision to transfer your request to the Ministry of Justice.
Manager – Intake and Early Assistance Team