The Government will start proactively releasing Cabinet papers in its drive to become more open and accountable, State Services Minister Chris Hipkins says.

The papers will be released no later than 30 business days after a Cabinet decision from January 1, 2019, unless there is a "good reason" not to release it.

"This change is about being an open and accountable Government. It will also make it easier for the public to understand government decisions and bolster the accountability of decision-makers and advisers," Hipkins said in a statement.

"This change is consistent with the spirit of the Official Information Act which states that information should be made available unless a good reason exists for withholding it.

"Proactive release of official information promotes good government and transparency and fosters public trust and confidence in Government and the public agencies," he said.

Individual ministers would have responsibility for releasing Cabinet papers, which would be assessed first to determine whether any information should be withheld.
Appointments and honours papers would be excluded for privacy reasons.

The Green Party, who made openness and transparency around official information a policy priority in its confidence and supply agreement with Labour, said that what went on behind closed doors in the Beehive had been hidden from public view for too long.

"When it comes to transparency in Government, we believe we can go further; we welcome releasing Cabinet papers, but will work effectively with Government to ensure that when decisions to withhold Cabinet papers occur, that is requisitely staunchly scrutinised. We also want to see OIA reform, to strengthen the capacity for the public to access information," Greens open and accessible government spokeswoman Chlöe Swarbrick said.

Meanwhile, a draft of the third Open Government Partnership action plan will be released for public comment by the State Services Commission on Thursday.

The plan addresses the themes of participation in democracy, public participation to develop policy and services and transparency and accountability.


As a member of the international Open Government Partnership (OGP) New Zealand works to develop a national action plan every two years.

Until recently, Clare Curran was the Open Government Minister but lost the portfolio, along with government digital services as a punishment from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for not recording and disclosing a meeting she held with entrepreneur Derek Handley in her Beehive office in February.