Tim Groser

Today, the High Court in Wellington served a humiliating judicial slapdown for Trade Minister Tim Groser and his anti-democratic moves to hide the TPP text from the people of New Zealand.

Leading academic and campaigner Jane Kelsey, along with other groups including Greenpeace, had taken Groser to court after he refused to release documents concerning the shady deal under the Official Information Act. 

The judge ruled that Groser’s actions were unlawful and a breach of his Ministerial responsibility.  

We are now demanding that the New Zealand government release the full text immediately, so we can all see for ourselves what is in this deal. All the indications are that the TPP has been concocted solely for the benefit of foreign companies and their sharp-suited billionaires, not for the people of New Zealand. 

This ruling also raises crucial questions over the way the current government is flouting Official Information Act requests over a range of issues, whether it’s secret deals with oil companies or the release of classified intelligence documents to bloggers. John Key has always maintained that when it comes to requests for official information, his ministers act within the law, although he later admitted that his government abuses it if “it’s in its best interests”.

This is a clear abuse of power and completely undermines a key pillar of our democracy.

The fact that the OIA process seems ‘broken’ is also one of the reasons why we launched Safesource - a secure way to hold big business and government to account and expose the cosy relationship between politicians, corporates and industry. It is a way that people across the country can provide information anonymously to expose wrongdoings and help build a fairer, safer and cleaner New Zealand.

Throughout the TPP negotiations, the government continued to welcome big corporations to sit at the table, yet slammed the door on ordinary New Zealanders. Today’s judgment is surely a warning that they cannot continue to do so and is a victory for the supporters of transparency and openness.