Unlocking secret papers

Diana Aquilina

Previously ‘public excluded’ reports and information from Waipā District Council could be released following a decision this week by councillors.

Legal counsel Diana Aquilina told the council if somebody made a request for a previously excluded paper, the council would do that under a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request.

But until their decision to delegate authority this week, there was no process for proactively releasing the information where there were no longer any grounds to withhold the papers.

“Sometimes the grounds for excluding the public from information/meetings changes over time, in which case the original grounds for withholding the information may no longer apply,” she said.

“This is often the case for commercial information, where its sensitivity may lessen over time.”

There are other times when staff consider a proactive release is timely but Standing Orders provide for the chief executive to firstly inform the council at its next meeting.

The change in delegations mean chief executive Garry Dyet and deputy chief executive Ken Morris can release reports and use their discretion on how and when elected members are informed.

No mention was made of how and when the public would be told.

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