On August 10, the Taxpayers’ Union requested a breakdown of Callaghan Innovation’s entertainment expenses for the most recent financial year – 2016/17. On September 8, Callaghan denied this request on the following basis:
“If we were to provide you with the information you have requested, we would be releasing information about our total expenditure before it is published within the Callaghan Innovation 2016/17 Annual Report. We are therefore refusing your request for this information under section 18(d) of the Act, as the information you have requested will soon be made publicly available.”
When the Annual Report was released later in the year, total expenditure figures were included but not broken down to show entertainment, accommodation, and airfares.
In other words, the information requested was neither made publicly available, nor provided to the Taxpayers’ Union directly upon the publication of the Annual Report. When this was raised with Callaghan in January, they insisted on a new 20-working-day OIA process.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “It appears Callaghan has used the Annual Report process to hide, or delay releasing, information on sensitive expenditure. This has allowed certain journalists to dismiss our recent scrutiny of 2015/16 expense figures as ‘historic’.”
“It is manipulation of the Official Information Act at its worst.”
“For chief executive Vic Crone, who stood on a platform of transparency running for mayor of Auckland, to engage in this gaming of the OIA suggests she is willing to take the lowest form of political manipulation to avoid transparency.”
“This information would have taken no longer than ten minutes to obtain from Callaghan’s accounting system. It would show whether Callaghan are being honest with their claims to have tightened theirs belt since Vic Crone was appointed chief executive. So why try to hide it?”
“The Minister in charge, Megan Woods, has already expressed concern over Callaghan’s use of taxpayer money. She should instruct Callaghan to release the information immediately, and cease playing games with the OIA.”
| A TaxpayersUnion release || February 05, 2018 |||