We suggest that the problem is more a case of difficult senior public bureaucrats who abuse the Official Information Act and its local government counterpart the LGMOI Act: the Ombudsman has been called to investigate multiple cases of that in Kapiti and, as observed, ever more council business is conducted in secret sessions. The meeting last Thursday was in open session for only an hour: that was followed by a few hours in secret talking about land and asset sales.
Media freedom thrives in New Zealand but is not entirely exempt from pressure, especially economic pressure. Media pluralism and independence are constantly under threat from moves to concentrate media ownership in ever fewer hands. In May 2017, the Commerce Commission rejected the proposed merger of the country’s two biggest media groups, NZME and Fairfax. There is also political pressure. The media continue to demand changes to the Official Information Act, which obstructs the work of journalists by allowing government agencies a long time to respond to information requests and even makes journalists pay several hundred dollars for the information. The new government led by Jacinda Ardern plans to reinforce the law protecting whistleblowers. At the same time, the suit that the new deputy prime minister brought against two journalists over a leak during the election campaign posed a threat to the confidentiality of their sources.