Jane Kelsey: Renewed Official Information Act requests for TPPA cost benefit and impact analyses

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Professor Jane Kelsey.

Source: Professor Jane Kelsey.

Professor Jane Kelsey.
Professor Jane Kelsey.

Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey has made an urgent request to Trade Minister Tim Groser under the Official Information Act for the study on which he bases  projected gains to New Zealand’s GDP by 2030, asking that it be released no later than Monday 12 October.

The request notes that ‘Given that the negotiations have concluded New Zealand’s position could not conceivably be jeopardised by its release; it is not information belonging to any other country in the TPPA negotiations; and the government is currently citing these figures in the current debate on the TPPA but not has not publishing the study on which it is based.’

The Minister’s office has acknowledged the request. 

She has also repeated an earlier Official Information request made in January 2015 for ‘any cost-benefit study, impact asessment or similar analysis or evaluation of the proposed agreement as a whole, of specific provisions, or impacts on particular sectors or policies that have been conducted by or for the New Zealand government.’

In February the Minister refused to release any such information. It later transpired that this includes an NZIER study on the Labour Market Effects of TPP. The Ministry said its  release during the negotiations would prejudice New Zealand’s ability to get the best outcome, a rationale which Professor Kelsey notes no longer applies.

This request was part of a broader request for eight categories of information, which the Minister refused on a blanket basis. The Minister’s decision is currently subject to judicial review in the High Court.

However, the Chief Ombudsman’s review of the Minister’s decision was a pre-requisite to that judicial review, and she did not form a final opinion about this particular category of information. It was therefore not able to include it in the judicial review proceedings.

In her report, the Chief Ombudsman said her investigation of this matter would be ongoing. That was on 27 July. Despite numerous requests, there has been no indication that it has been actively pursued in the ten weeks since then.  In light of the conclusion of the negotiations, and the lack of information publicly available, Professor Kelsey has asked the Chief Ombudsman to provide a conclusive response on that category of information by Monday 12 October.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.