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Mining policy leaker goes unplugged

Wednesday 6th October 2010

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Investigations by the State Services Commission into two damaging leaks of confidential government information have come up empty-handed.

The SSC reported today that it had been unable to identify who had leaked a draft copy of the government’s minerals stocktake public consultation paper, some weeks ahead of its intended release earlier this year, as opposition to mining on protected conservation land was building.

The government abandoned the policy, based on the overwhelmingly negative public feedback, and was seen as a defeat for the pro-extractive industries Minister of Resources, Gerry Brownlee.

In the minerals paper case, the SSC could not even be sure the leak had come from within the public service, given the range of parties that had copies of the draft.

The result of a second inquiry, into Cabinet papers relating to the merger of the National Library and Archives with the Department of Internal Affairs, was equally unable to finger a culprit.

This was in part because chief executives of government agencies had shared information about the plan with senior officials than was authorised by the SSC.

“The motivation for a broader range of officials being given this information was well intentioned and designed to ensure that departments could respond quickly to a Cabinet decision,” the SSC said in a statement.

“However, agency amalgamation can be sensitive and Ministers should be able to discuss these proposals in confidence before arriving at a decision.

“This investigation suggests a two-stage process for future amalgamation to balance the need for confidentiality while recognising the considerable amount of implementation work required by such proposals.”

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