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IV. Governance issues

Open government

The Official Information Act of 19821 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act of 19872 are freedom of information laws governing the public sector. The Official Information Act is seen as an important weapon to oversee the actions of the executive and ministers.3 There are significant interconnections between this freedom of information legislation and the Privacy Act in subject matter, administration, and jurisprudence, so much so that the three enactments may be viewed, in relation to access to information, as complementary components of one overall statutory scheme. The Office of the Ombudsman supervises enforcement.4 The Ombudsman hears around 1,100 complaints each year under the Official Information Act and 170 each year under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. The Privacy Commissioner and the Ombudsmen work closely together where Official Information Act requests involve privacy issues.

The Public Records Act 2005 came into force on April 20, 2005. The purposes of the legislation are to hold the Government accountable for: ensuring that full and accurate records of the affairs of central and local government are created and maintained; providing for the preservation of, and public access to, records of long-term value; and for enhancing public confidence in the integrity of public records and local authority records.5

International obligations

New Zealand is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and has adopted the OECD Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data.

Self-governig territories

The Privacy Act does not apply to self-governing territories associated with New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Niue, nor does it apply to the soon-to-be self-governing territory of Tokelau.