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Moanataiari Shut-out 

There is an item on Wednesday's Council 'Public Excluded' Agenda called 'Moanataiari Site Contamination Project Update'. Now I wonder why it is necessary to have this item 'Public Excluded'?

Section 48(1) of the LGA is quite specific in defining those matters trhat may be handled in this manner.It requires a 'reason' and the 'grounds' under the Section to be provided for this action.

The 'reason' for exclusion is stated as to "Enable any local authority holding the information to carry on. without prejudice or disadvantage, negotiations (including commercial and industrial negotiations) to:

Maintain legal profesional privaledge

Prevent disclosure of official information for improper advantage.

Protect information where the making available of the information would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the person who suplied or who is the subject of the information".

The 'grounds' provided are that "Subject to this subsection of this section a local authority may by resolution exclude the public from the whole or any part of the proceedings of any meeting only on one or more of the following grounds:

That the public conduct of the whole or the relevant part of the proceeedings of the meeting would be likely to result in the disclosure of information for which good reason would exist".

If is difficult in the extreme to imagine just what information could be 'prejudicial' under these definitions and that would warrant this extreme action being taken to keep whatever information is being held from the public.  

It seems to me that such withholding of information of this nature is in defiance of the Freedom of Information Act, if not the Local Government Act, and if they continue with this action on Wednesday it may be necessary to have the information brought out in then open through an OIA request.

Presumably, what is being with-held is bad news for the residents of Moanataiari, and by extention, the whole of the population of Thames. Otherwise, why with-hold it. The reasuring comments that Mr Ben Day and the Mayor have made recently in this regard must have some bearing on the reluctance to reveal whatever it is that has come to light - presumably through the employment of Australian consultants. 

I for one am alarmed by this turn of events.




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