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ACT Justice and Firearms Law Reform spokesperson Nicole McKee says it is disturbing and alarming knowing that evidence of the Christchurch terrorist attacks information has been suppressed for the next 30 years, without the public being able to see it.
“It is disturbing to learn that evidence from senior public servants to the Royal Commission into the Christchurch mosque attacks will be withheld in full,” says ACT Justice and Firearms Law Reform spokesperson Nicole McKee.
“Firstly, this was not the impression given in statements from the Commission in recent days, which noted that only some information would be withheld to protect national security.”
The Royal Commission said that a small number of senior Ministers past and present, including public servants, would not be at liberty to talk about their interviews because of confidentiality orders.
“It is surprising to learn that this stretches to complete suppression of their evidence. In fact, much was made of the Commission’s statement that the report had been written in a way that it could ‘be made available to the public, in full, without the need for redaction,” Nicole McKee says.
“We now learn, after the report has been handed to the Government, that all evidence provided by Ministers and senior public servants will be suppressed for 30 years.”
ACT believes that the evidence other than that which might affect national security, or could risk the safety of individuals involved, should be made public.
“That is the standard of disclosure expected under the Official Information Act, and the public should receive nothing less in this case. For full transparency an explanation of the reasoning behind the decision is deserved, especially as so much is being withheld when it appears that the advice suggested otherwise,” Nicole McKee says.
“Just because the Inquiries Act allows the Government to do this doesn’t mean it should.”
“The enormity of the events of 15 March 2019 and the need for the public to have trust in our institutions so that a similar violent act will never be repeated, is a valid case for the very highest levels of transparency.”
ACT is greatly concerned that questions about this will now linger over whether lessons will be ‘properly’ learned because the information has been suppressed and withheld.
“New Zealand lived this terror and are living its consequences as a country. We are all awaiting the inquiry’s findings,” Nicole McKee says.