Chief Archivist to investigate Prime Minister

The Green Party welcomes the decision by the Chief Archivist to investigate their complaint into the Prime Minister’s practice of deleting official text messages.

On 28 November 2014, the Green Party asked the Chief Archivist to look into John Key’s admission that he does not keep text messages that came to him from Cameron Slater or anyone else. The Archivist has confirmed she’ll look into the Prime Minister’s record keeping practices and whether there was a breach of the Public Records Act 2005.

“Following our complaints to the Police and to the Inspector General of Intelligence over Dirty Politics, it’s taken the Chief Archivist to finally inquire into the communications practice of the Prime Minister,” Green Party open government spokesperson James Shaw said.

“No one expects the Chief Archivist to conduct an inquisition, but there is no reason why the Prime Minister should have had to delete messages from Cameron Slater unless he has something to hide.

“We’re sorry to drag the Chief Archivist into the middle of the Dirty Politics maelstrom, but we felt that the Prime Minister’s stated practice of deleting all his texts, even those that are clearly to do with his Prime Ministerial business, was wrong.

“We believe the Prime Minister is in breach of his duties under the Public Records Act. These text messages should be treated the same as emails or other correspondence. They are public records which should be available to every New Zealander under the Official Information Act (OIA).

“Deleting these texts is contrary to the principles of an open and honest government.                                                                                                                                      

“In the three months since the election, the Prime Minister’s office has been linked to using the intelligence agencies for political gain, his department is under investigation for alleged abuses of the OIA and now he is under the spotlight himself for breaching the Public Records Act.

“This is a government that thinks the rules do not apply to them.

“The Green Party is pleased the investigation is underway and there will hopefully be some clear guidelines that come out of this,” said Mr Shaw.