When Idiot/Savant goes wrong | The Jackal

9 Sept 2014

When Idiot/Savant goes wrong

There are a number of very good bloggers in New Zealand that try their best to keep the buggers honest. One such blogger who writes over at No Right Turn and goes by the name of Idiot/Savant is perhaps one of the best in the business.

Most of the time I completely agree with what Idiot/Savant writes. However, once in a while he or she tends to go completely off the deep end, especially when they rely on incorrect advice from those who appear to be nothing more than right wing disinformation trolls.

Today, Idiot/Savant claimed that Phil Goff had acted unlawfully:

Not acceptable 
Phil Goff was interviewed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security today, and in the process admitted on oath to unlawfully delaying an OIA request.

Actually, Phil Goff hasn't "admitted on oath to unlawfully delaying an OIA request" at all. Idiot/Savant appears to be trying to put words in the MPs mouth.

So, just to be clear, Goff didn't like the identity of the requester, so he demanded a delay. And Tucker gave it to him. That is unlawful. The OIA is clear: a response must be made "as soon as reasonably practicable". The information clearly could have been released immediately, so it should have been. Goff (and Tucker) has behaved unlawfully by having it delayed.

Idiot/Savant is assuming to know exactly what was discussed between Warren Tucker and Phil Goff. In doing so he or she is simply making shit up. Also, the only change of decision was that the information wasn't going to be expedited. Most OIA requests aren't expedited and as it stands there's certainly nothing illegal about that under the Act.

Still, Goff's frankness is illuminating: he believes, contrary to law, that not liking the identity of the requester is a reason for delaying a response. Which shows perfectly why he is unfit to hold office and should never be allowed to control an OIA process ever again.

After reading this article, you will note that Phil Goff didn't actually request a delay; he simply asked if Warren Tucker knew who Cameron Slater was. It was Warren Tucker's decision to insignificantly delay the release of information. Clearly the release was still made within the prescribed 20 day time frame.

In fact after reviewing the sequence of events it appears as if the information was processed before Slater's request for it was even made. Clearly Judith Collins or somebody in her office tipped Slater off about what he should request. In effect she used National's attack blogger to undermine Phil Goff. Perhaps that is what we should instead be focusing on?

Furthermore, it's not contrary to the law that the person fulfilling an OIA request, in this case Warren Tucker, consults with those who may be affected by the release of information. At that stage of an OIA request being processed there's no set decision about if or how the information might be released.

Here's the specific part of the Official Information Act (PDF) which means after consultation Warren Tucker can make any decision he believes is appropriate in accordance with the Act:

15 Decisions on requests

Nothing in subsection (4) prevents the chief executive of a department or any officer or employee of a department from consulting a Minister of the Crown or any other person in relation to the decision that the chief executive or officer or employee proposes to make on any request made to the department in accordance with section 12 of this Act or transferred to the department in accordance with section 14 of this Act or section 12 of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

If the person fulfilling an OIA request wasn't able to make a decision based on consultation with those directly affected, that particular part of the act simply wouldn't exist. Unfortunately for Idiot/Savant's argument it does, which renders Idiot/Savants tirade about Phil Goff being unlawful for pointing out who Slater is completely wrong!

I tried to point that out to Idiot/Savant yesterday in this tweet:

In fact by incorrectly claiming Phil Goff has acted unlawfully it looks like Idiot/Savant has some sort of personal grudge against him, which doesn't just make for bad reading, it makes Idiot/Savant's other arguments somewhat less effective as well.