C.05.Res.01 Grounds for refusing external parties request for information

Access to information cannot lawfully be refused for any reason other than those in the Official Information Act 1982.

(OIA). The OIA specifies three types of “good reason” for withholding official information: conclusive reasons; special reasons; and other reasons. Furthermore, the OIA specifies a number of reasons, in addition to good reason for withholding, for refusing a request for official information.

Managers must refuse the request for information if any of the following reasons are identified.

Conclusive reasons to withhold official information Legislation
Prejudice New Zealand’s defence, security or international relations. Section 6 (a)
Prejudice any international government or organisations entrusting information to the government on a basis of confidence. Section 6 (b)
Prejudice the maintenance of the law (including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences and the right to a fair trial). Section 6 (c)
Endanger the safety of any person. Section 6 (d)
Seriously damage the economy by prematurely disclosing decisions to change or continue with Government economic or financial policies. Section 6 (e)

Managers must refuse the request for information if any of the following reasons are identified:

Special reasons to withhold official information Legislation
Likely to prejudice the security or defence of the Cook Islands, Tokelau, Niue or the Ross Dependency Section 7 (a)
Likely to prejudice relations between any of the Governments of New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Niue. Section 7 (b)
Likely to prejudice the international relations of the Cook Islands or Niue. Section 7 (c)

Managers should refuse the request for information if any of the following reasons are identified. In these cases, however, the reasons to withhold official information must be weighed against any other considerations which may render it desirable in the public interest to release the information. The Department must be able to demonstrate that the public interest has been considered.

Other reasons to withhold official information Section
Protect the privacy of natural persons (including the privacy of a deceased person). Section 9 (2) (a)
Protect information where the making available of the information would disclose a trade secret or would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information. Section 9 (2) (b)
Protect information which is subject to an obligation of confidence or which any person is compellable to provide, where the making available of the information would be likely to prejudice the supply of similar information or information from a similar source and it is in the public interest that such information should continue to be supplied, or it would be likely otherwise to damage the public interest. Section 9 (2) (b)
Avoid prejudice to measures protecting the health or safety of members of the public. Section 9 (2) (c)
Avoid prejudice to the substantial economic interests of New Zealand. Section 9 (2) (d)
Avoid prejudice to measures that prevent or mitigate material loss to members of the public. Section 9 (2) (e)
Maintain the constitutional conventions which protect confidentiality of communications by or with the Sovereign or her representative, collective and individual ministerial responsibility, the political neutrality of officials, and the confidentiality of advice tendered by Ministers and officials. Section 9 (2) (f)
Maintain the effective conduct of public affairs through the free and frank expression of opinions by, between, or to, Ministers, officers and employees of a Department or members of an organisation, in the course of their duty, or through protection of any of them from improper pressure or harassment. Section 9 (2) (g)
Maintain legal professional privilege. Section 9 (2) (h)
Enable a Minister or Department to carry out commercial activities. Section 9 (2) (I)
Enable a Minister or Department to carry out negotiations without prejudice or disadvantage. Section 9 (2) (j)
Prevent disclosure or use of information for improper gain. Section 9 (2) (k)

Requests for official information may only be refused for one or more of the following reasons:

Reason to refuse a request for official information Legislation
Good reason (conclusive, special, or other) to withhold the information exists Section 18 (a)
The reason in section 10 require a response that neither confirms nor denies that the information exists. Section 18 (b)
The release is contrary to another Act or could constitute contempt of court or the House of Representatives. Section 18 (c)
The information is, or will soon be, publicly available. Section 18 (d)
The information could be, or has been, sought by a defendant (or person acting for a defendant) under the Criminal Disclosure Act 2008. Section 18 (da)
The information does not exist, or is not held by the Department. Section 18 (e)
The information requires substantial collation or research. Section 18 (f)
The information is not held by the Department and is held by another department, or connected closely with the functions of another department. Section 18(g)
The information is trivial, or the request is frivolous or vexatious. Section 18 (h)