Cabinet papers will be proactively released to the public within 30 business days unless there is good reason to withhold them, the Government has announced.

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement on Tuesday morning, ahead of the release of an action plan for open government later this week.

Hipkins, who has taken back responsibility for open government following the resignation of Clare Curran, said the change was about accountability and would make it easier for the public to understand government decisions.

The policy change, to apply to Cabinet papers lodged after January 1 next year, will set up a “non-statutory process” for releasing the information, “separate to but in the spirit of the Official Information Act”.

All Cabinet papers will be released within 30 business days of a final decision being made, “unless there is good reason not to publish”.

“If we can publish it, we will,” Hipkins said.

Individual ministers would be responsible for releasing Cabinet papers, which would be assessed to decide whether there were grounds to withhold any of the information.

Appointments and honours papers would be excluded from release due to privacy reasons, Hipkins said.

He also revealed the State Services Commission would on Thursday release New Zealand’s draft action plan on open government, covering its plans from 2018 to 2020.

The draft plan would respond to three themes: participation in democracy, public participation to develop policy and services, and transparency and accountability.

“Although we continue to rank at the top of most international measures of trust in government, we can always do better and New Zealanders expect nothing less,” Hipkins said.

Sam Sachdeva is Newsroom's national affairs editor, covering foreign affairs and trade, housing, and other issues of national significance.

Leave a comment