Who refused to release the letters? | The Jackal

21 Jun 2014

Who refused to release the letters?

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Letters of support from two Government MPs for Donghua Liu's citizenship bid have been kept secret - despite letters from Labour politicians for his residency bid being released this week.

The Herald reported in March that Liu received citizenship in 2010 against official advice after lobbying by Maurice Williamson, the Minister for Building and Construction, and John Banks, the Mayor of Auckland at the time who later entered Parliament as an Act MP.

However, the Department of Internal Affairs refused to release the letters sent by Mr Williamson and Mr Banks under the privacy and commercial provisions in the Official Information Act.

The privacy and commercial provisions within the Official Information Act seem like a weak excuse for not releasing all the letters.

These are clearly letters between Ministers and Donghua Liu that should not really contain information that would prejudice or disadvantage people's commercial activities.

I should also mention that these letters can easily be redacted to remove any private information and should therefore be released because of the public interest in this matter.

No Right Turn blogs:

So it turns out that Immigration released letters from David Cunliffe and Chris Carter in support of Donghua Liu, but kept letters from government MPs secret.


This looks like a blatantly political release decision to advance the interests of the government of the day. It is an abuse of the Act which shames the entire public service and calls its impartiality into question. Transparency of official information applies to everyone, not just the government's enemies.

I would very much like to know if it really was Internal Affairs or Immigration that refused to release the letters written by Maurice Williamson and John Banks, or was it the Minister himself?

That would likely be the inept Peter Dunne, who would have to sign off on the release of any official information. However it could also be Michael Woodhouse, who is compromised because of his associated with the corrupt Donghua Liu. Either way, there are clearly spurious grounds for not releasing all the letters, as Idiot/Savant succinctly points out. Let's hope the Ombudsman makes the right decision in this matter.

Being that this whole thing has been carefully orchestrated to make David Cunliffe look bad in the run-up to an election, it wouldn't surprise me if Peter Dunne or Michael Woodhouse received a pro-release briefing paper with the letters in question attached and simply chose what information to withhold because they're biased.

The minister in question may well have then instructed Internal Affairs or Immigration to refuse to release the letters that would make the government look bad in favour of releasing an 11 year old letter soon after getting their media cohorts to ask David Cunliffe certain leading questions in order to entrap him.

That would seem to be a far more logical explanation for the letters from government MPs concerning Donghua Liu to be kept secret than any privacy or commercial reasons.

I very much doubt that Internal Affairs or Immigration would make such a politically biased decision on their own. In fact the evidence is pretty clear that one of these two ministers is responsible for this prejudiced decision.

Most ministry's are overly careful to not get caught up in political point scoring, because in general they want to keep their jobs when a new government is elected.