Release of government information

Agencies and their Ministers are obliged to release government information during the election period in the normal way. Information can be released proactively or in response to a request under the OIA.

Proactive release of Cabinet papers

This Cabinet-mandated policy is for Ministers to proactively release all Cabinet and Cabinet committee papers and minutes within 30 business days of final decisions being taken by Cabinet, unless there is good reason either not to publish all or part of the material, or to delay the release beyond 30 business days.

The proactive release of Cabinet papers continues as normal. Agencies should not become involved in assessing the political consequences of releasing information.

Official information request responses

The timely release of official information requested by the public is important in supporting our democratic processes. It is particularly important during an election period given the importance of a well-informed electorate.

State servants must be even-handed in responding to OIAs and treat all requesters equally. The only reasons for withholding information are those specified in the Act.

Chapter 8 of the Cabinet Manual has guidance on the release of official information, including the involvement of Ministers in a release.

Agencies are not obliged to consult their Minister on a request for official information, unless:

  • the request relates to Cabinet material (as this is related to his or her activities as a Minister); or
  • it helps the agency make an appropriate decision about the request.

Transferring an OIA request to the Minister’s office is mandatory when the request is more closely connected to the Minister’s functions than the agency’s, regardless of whether the agency also holds the information.

State servants must not become involved in assessing the political consequences of releasing information. Notifying the Minister of the agency’s decision on the release of the OIA, along with providing released information, may be appropriate if it is considered necessary to enable the Minister to prepare for the possibility of public or political commentary.

Read the SSC’s guidance on Minister and Agency Official Information Requests

Read the Cabinet Manual guidance on OIA releases.

Read the Ombudsman's guidance on release of information for Ministers and agencies.

Information requests from political parties’ post-election

The OIA also applies to information provided to political parties that are negotiating to form a new government. The State Services Commissioner should be advised of the request and the approach the agency intends to take. If necessary, the State Services Commissioner will coordinate the response.

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