Image credit: Lisa Nottingham
The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has released a 2013 briefing to the Minister of Housing Hon Dr Nick Smith written by their Chief Engineer.
The Minister asked about a reduced standard of repair for older properties “particularly in the context of Housing New Zealand [properties]”, however the Ministry’s response is still illuminating:
The full document is embedded below.
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On 22 July 2016 a woman was sexually assaulted while walking through the University of Canterbury owned Ilam Fields.
On 24 July 2016 a reporter from The Press contacted the University in response to the Police releasing a statement to the media. The Police told The Press that the assault was actually a sexual assault, and this fact was published in an article that day. In response to an Official Information Act request, most of which was initially declined, the University said that “the Police appeared not to have told the University of the sexual nature of the incident before telling the media”.
However, the University did not inform students of the sexual nature of the incident after it became public knowledge. The assault was alluded to in a 28 July UC blog post, which included 10 ’safety and security tips’ and a list of ’support for students’ links, including a link to the UC Health Centre. This content was also included in the next edition of the ‘Insider’s Guide Newsletter’, a weekly digest sent to all students, on 31 July.
Last night a student died suddenly at the Rochester and Rutherford Hall of Residence.
The death has been reported as sudden and not suspicious, often used by the media as code for a suspected suicide.
UC acting vice-chancellor, Dr Hamish Cochrane was quoted by the media as saying “all the university’s students and staff were advised [Sunday], and made aware of the support available”.
Communication to students consisted solely of a UC blog post listing four UC support services that are available to students, including the UC Health Centre. Links to blog posts appear for a few days in the sidebar of Learn, UC’s online learning management system which is regularly accessed by students and staff. However, no email was sent to students, and there was no acknowledgment that a student had died.
Late on Sunday night, a link to the blog post was included in the ‘Insider’s Guide Newsletter’ emailed to students.
Students are struggling to access support.
The UC Health Centre provides free counselling to UC students, however their website states that counselling appointments “are in high demand [and] you may have to wait a few weeks to be seen”. During office hours there is an on-call counsellor to deal with students facing an “emergency situation”.
During this year’s UCSA elections one group of candidates asked students on Facebook which one out of four campaign policies they thought was most important. “Increased mental health awareness and support” was voted second. In response to a question asking how the UCSA should help support those with mental health issues, students voted overwhelmingly for “increased health centre funding for more counsellors”.
Students wanting to skip the UC Health Centre counselling waiting list could choose to pay for sessions with a private counsellor or psychologist. Students may be eligible for the disability allowance, however there are restrictions, including a maximum payment of $61.69 a week (appointments with private psychologists can cost $150 or more).
Last month the member’s bill of Nuk Korako, a National Party list MP, was drawn from the ballot. The Airport Authorities (Publicising Lost Property Sales) Amendment Bill will replace, in relation to the advertisement of lost property auctions: “the insertion of suitable advertisements in a newspaper circulating in the district where the airport is situated” with “publicising the sale in what the authority considers to be a fair and reasonable manner”.
The explanatory note to the Bill says that it “would allow authorities to use modern means of communication as well as future, unforeseen, means of communications as the airport authority may determine fit.” This isn’t true. The current Airport Authorities Act does not restrict airports from advertising any auction in new media. If airports wanted to advertise their auctions on their website, Facebook, or Snapchat, there would be nothing stopping them.
The Airport Authorities Act only provides a suggested template for what airports may wish to include in any bylaws they create. The Act states:
any local authority or airport authority may, in respect of the airport which it operates, make such bylaws as it thinks fit for all or any of the following purposes:
(ff) providing for the establishing and maintaining of facilities at the airport for the reception and storage of lost property, and, after the insertion of suitable advertisements in a newspaper circulating in the district where the airport is situated, providing for the sale by way of auction of any such property that is unclaimed after being held by the authority for not less than 3 months:
provided that in the case of lost property which is perishable or valueless the bylaws may provide for the disposal of the property in such manner as may be determined by the authority
This does not mean that airports must have this as a bylaw. Many airports do not have any bylaws at all. Hawke’s Bay Airport has a lost property bylaw, however it only requires that those finding lost property hand it in.
It follows that if an airport does have a clause requiring the advertising of a lost property auction in a local newspaper, for example, Auckland International Airport, amending the Airport Authorities Act will not change that bylaw. The airport would have to have the bylaw changed, which could happen even if Mr Korako’s Bill does not pass.
I asked eight airports how much money they spent on advertisements for lost property auctions within the last year. Of the six that replied, only one airport, Dunedin Airport, has held an auction and placed an advertisement for it in the last year. The cost to them? $0. The Otago Daily Times doesn’t charge them.
The responses from the airports are below this post.
Airports don’t have an issue with this part of the Airport Authorities Act. The Ministry of Transport did not receive any submissions on this part when they were reviewing airport legislation.
In any case, minor and technical changes to acts can be made through the annual Statutes Amendment Bill.
To be fair, Mr Korako isn’t solely to blame. Minister Simon Bridges had the opportunity to include this Bill as part of the Ministry of Transport’s review of the Airport Authorities Act, but chose not to. It’s more convenient for the government that Mr Korako’s bill reduces the chance an opposition member’s bill will be drawn.
A similar bill that should be included in the Statutes Amendment Bill instead of taking up Parliament resources is Matt Doocey’s Companies (Annual Report Notice Requirements) Amendment Bill which also was recently introduced to Parliament.
The government wants to block bills from opposition members that might make them confront difficult issues that aren’t on their agenda. This Bill is a waste of Parliament’s time and resources, and as Andrew Geddis said, we, as New Zealanders, deserve better.
Queenstown Airport has a bylaw that covers lost property, however it has not held an auction within the last year, instead it has donated property to the Salvation Army. The property was not of significant value and included: second-hand clothing, sunglasses, reading glasses and books.
Christchurch International Airport has a bylaw that covers lost property, however the airport has not placed any lost property auction advertisements within the last year.
Dunedin Airport is the only airport that replied that has placed an advertisement for a lost property auction within the last year. They are not charged for placing the advertisements, which run in the Otago Daily Times.
Their policy is to advertise lost property twice in the Otago Daily Times with all property being held for at least three months before being auctioned. Any remaining property is donated to charity. Any valuable item or identity documents are handed to the airport police
The Airport provided an example of an advertisement they have recently run.
Invercargill Airport has not placed an advertisement for a lost property auction within the last year. They donate lost property to charity or give it to the police.
Hokitika Airport has not received any lost property since 2002. They have no written policy on lost property. In practice, any lost property is handed to Air New Zealand staff as it likely belongs to one of their passengers or someone accompanying one of their passengers and Hokitika Airport staff are not present at the airport on a regular basis.
Hawke’s Bay Airport has a bylaw relating to lost property, however the bylaw does not cover the disposal or auction of that property.
They have not placed an advertisement for a lost property auction within the last year.
Auckland and Wellington airports are not subject to the Official Information Act. Auckland International Airport reportedly donates at least some lost property to charity. Wellington International Airport passes valuables to the police.
Nelson and Palmerston North airports did not respond to an Official Information Act request within the statutory timeframe.
Image credit: Monika
Update 30 May 2016: PHARMAC is currently consulting on a proposal to widen funding for the HPV vaccine to everyone under the age of 26.
PHARMAC currently funds the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for all girls under 20. The intention is that through ‘herd immunity’, males will be protected too. However, herd immunity does not help males who exclusively have sex with other males (and herd immunity doesn’t kick in for males at all until female vaccination rates are above a certain percentage).
The Ministry of Health’s Immunisation Handbook even recommends the HPV vaccine (and the Hepatitis A vaccine) for men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM are at higher risk for HPV infection, anal cancer and high-grade anal intraepithelial neoplasia. They are more likely to acquire HPV compared to other males. But they’d need to pay around $500 to buy the vaccine’s three doses themselves.
In August 2013, the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee recommended that the HPV vaccine for males aged between 9 and 26 years who self-identify as having sex with other males be listed in the Pharmaceutical Schedule (aka funded) with a high priority.
The application’s status is now ‘ranked’, which PHARMAC describes as “prioritised; PHARMAC has assessed the application and has ranked it against other funding options”. It has had this status since November 2013, well over two years.
It is preferable to vaccinate people at a younger age to reduce the chances of exposure to HPV strains prior to vaccination–the younger people are vaccinated, the stronger the immunogenicity. PHARMAC sitting on this means that for some people the vaccine will be less effective when it is eventually funded than if they received it today.
The Human Rights Act 1993 is meant to protect New Zealanders against this sort of discrimination, but it would be much easier if PHARMAC just did the right thing.
Below: PHARMAC’s response to an Official Information Act request on this topic. The funding of medicines is a numbers game so naturally all mentions of relevant dollar figures have been redacted by the agency.
In the interests of full disclosure, I filed a Human Rights Commission complaint about this issue last year.
Last year I sent an Official Information Act request to all the state and integrated secondary schools in New Zealand that have year 12/13 students with a couple of questions about their school balls/formals. Many schools didn’t reply at all, and the Office of the Ombudsman is involved with those requests. Many schools didn’t have much experience with the OIA. And there’s a few things I could have done better.
Here’s what I said:
If you hold a school ball or formal could you please answer the following questions? Do you have a policy on same-sex dates? If so, could you please email me a copy of that policy?
In the past, has the school banned same-sex dates from attending the school ball or formal? If so, could you please provide details?
Do you have a policy on parties before/after the school ball or formal? If so, could you please email me a copy of that policy? [note that if schools interpreted this as a written policy, many will have responded with no policy when they do indeed have common practices and procedures]
And here’s the meat of the replies.
Darfield High is perhaps one of the more honest schools, and might not deserve to be in the same category as the other schools listed below. They admit that in the past same-sex partners weren’t permitted at their balls. This would have happened at other schools too.
Greymouth High School elect a king and queen. This probably happens at other schools too. Is it an inclusive practice?
‘Case by case basis’ is mentioned a lot in these replies. This doesn’t apply to opposite-sex dates that want to attend to the ball. Is it fair to subject same-sex dates to an additional process, just because of their sex?
Rejecting friends and mates of the same-sex as partners also came up. Are friends and mates of the opposite sex declined as dates? Is having to be gay, or having to prove that you’re gay, by signing something, or whatever, to take a same-sex date to a ball/formal acceptable?
Inviting sports teams to the formal/ball also came up as an excuse to treat same-sex couples differently. I wonder if the members of a mixed sports team attending the formal/ball would, as one schools says, “make a mockery out of the occasion”. I wonder how many times a same-sex sports team has attended the event at these schools. If it has happened, I wonder if they are being slightly over-dramatic regarding the negative effect it caused.
Christchurch Adventist School is the only school, out of those that actually replied, that flat-out says same-sex dates wouldn’t be permitted.
Campion College says they “generally [do not permit same-sex dates] due to a previous issue with vandalism”. I wonder if effectively banning same-sex dates is the best solution for this situation. I wonder how vandalism of a significant nature can occur during a supervised event.
Here’s what St Patrick’s College Wellington (the one that was in the news last year) said:
“Do you have a policy on same-sex dates?
No we do not.
Has the school banned same-sex dates in the past?
No as this has never arisen before.
Do you have a policy on parties before/after the school ball or formal? No we do not.”
Wellington Girls College
Sancta Maria College
Darfield High School
St Thomas of Canterbury College
Christchurch Adventist School
St Bede’s College
Tauranga Boys’ College
Albany Senior High School
Aranui High School
Bayfield High School
Cashmere High School
Central Hawkes Bay College
Coastal Taranaki School
Craighead Diocesan School
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School
Freyberg High School
Greymouth High School
Hamilton Boys’ High School
Hamilton Girls’ High School
Hutt Valley High School
John Paul II High School
Kamo High School
Kelston Girls’ College
Lincoln High School
Maniototo Area School
Manurewa High School
Middleton Grange School
Nelson College For Girls
New Plymouth Girls’ High School
Papatoetoe High School
Queens High School
Raglan Area School
Rangiora High School
Reefton Area School
Sacred Heart Girls’ College (N Plymouth)
Shirley Boys’ High School
Southland Boys’ High School
St Hildas Collegiate
St John’s College (Hastings)
St Mary’s College (Ponsonby)
St Peter’s College (Palmerston North)
Takapuna Grammar School
Tauranga Girls’ College
Te Awamutu College
Thames High School
Waiheke High School
Wainuiomata High School
Waitaki Girls’ High School
Wanganui Girls’ College
Wellington East Girls’ College
Western Springs College
Westlake Girls’ High School
Image credit: stu_spivack
Here’s a couple of tweets I liked:
“Why don’t you research something that is educationally significant” – Like OIA compliance at schools, Ms Kelly? matthewtaylor.co.nz/2012/02/12/oia…
— David Ritchie (@dritchie) February 13, 2012
— Bill Blackstone (@SirWB) February 13, 2012
And this post from drone on supplying ‘who are you?’ information:
‘[in response to another post] This, and your other suggestions, are undermining the spirit and intent of the OIA. It is not up to the schools to decide whether they should hand over information based on any criteria of use or who is requesting it.
It’s not about being polite, it’s ensuring that the “norm” does not become something where those providing information under OIA have more wriggle room out of providing it than the law provides.’
If anyone is curious, this is the only guidance schools have over Official Information Act requests, from the New Zealand School Trustees Association:
‘Official Information Act (OIA) Requests: From time to time boards bear the brunt of broad requests or fishing type expeditions. A recent case in point is a request in the past couple of weeks from the Leader of the Oppositions office to principals for information relating to national standards. We have had calls from boards and principals about the time and effort these sorts of things create. A reminder of the process when dealing with an OIA request (see very helpful guidelines from the Ombudsmen).
- you should ensure that the board are aware of any information that is intended to be released from any member of staff
- you have up to 20 days to respond to the request (in certain cases you can defer for administrative reasons – but this is limited)
- If the request relates to “work in progress” you may not be able to provide a definitive answer to what is requested and you should identify that is the case.
- you should ensure that what information the board supplies does not compromised the privacy of any individual(s)
- you are not required to write an extensive response – often a yes/no, numbers or simply a copy of the material will do
- sometimes it is not possible to establish the exact information eg if you are asked how much training has been undertaken specifically for one purpose it may be difficult to separate this out from the normal PD undertaken in the school. There is no requirement to establish new separate databases for such things, particularly where this would require additional administrative costs.’
The 20 day bullet point is interesting because the OIA states: “as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case not later than 20 working days”.
In fact, in 2008 the Office of the Ombudsman released this statement (via), titled ‘Some public servants play games with OIA requests’:
‘Beverley Wakem says the Office has observed an increasing tendency by a few government departments and Ministerial offices to ignore the provisions of the Official Information Act over the timing of responses to requesters.
“While in some cases this was clearly a misunderstanding of their obligations, there is also a regrettable tendency to game the system and delay responses until the complainants’ interest in the matter had passed,” she says.’ [emphasis mine]
1) When sending a request to multiple recipients, test it with a few first. Then make appropriate changes. Including ‘procedures and practices’ in my request might have been a good idea. However most schools got the idea that by policies, I also meant procedures and practices.
2) Ask for the recipient to tell you when they have received your request. That opens the door for you to send a nice email a few days later to make sure they got your first email if they haven’t replied.
Some schools appreciated the half way follow-up reminder. Others didn’t. Probably because of the Ombudsman line.
3) Let them know that you know the time limit. “I look forward to your response within 20 working days.” Or you can calculate the day.
Image credit: Heath Brandon