Home' The Wellingtonian : December 8th 2011 Contents 22 THE WELLINGTONIAN, DECEMBER 8, 2011
Johnsonville Shopping Centre: 478 5468,
Wellington - Cuba St: 801 9793, Wellington - Lambton Quay: 471 1069.
Visit specsavers.co.nz to find out more.
Some optometrists charge extra for Digital Retinal Photography.
At Specsavers, it's FREE with every standard eye exam.*
Advanced technology in eye examinations
At Specsavers, nothing is more important to us than ensuring the health of your eyes. We believe everybody should have access to
a comprehensive level of eye care, which is why we've introduced FREE Digital Retinal Photography with every standard eye exam.
Early detection of disease
This sophisticated equipment produces a high resolution photograph of your retina to help us screen for abnormalities, allowing
early detection of diseases such as Diabetes, Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma. Any detected abnormalities can then be
monitored and treated to better protect the quality of your sight and overall eye health.
*DRP not available at all stores. See w ww.specsavers.co.nz for participating stores. © 2011 Specsavers Optical Group. McCANN_SPE12294.
FOR YOUR LOCAL SERVICE TECHNICIAN CALL 0800 37 2273
• Call and book 24/7
• Flat rate labour charge
• 12 month warranty on parts
• We repair Fisher & Paykel,
ELBA and Haier appliances in
and out of warranty
• Locally owned and operated
up with IRD
By JIM CHIPP
Intrepid reporter: Amy Jackman,
who broke the student loans debt
collection story. Photo: JIM CHIPP
Student loans are always a political
hot potato, but they must have been
particularly scalding when The
Wellingtonian asked about the
Government's debt collection plans.
Departments and ministers could
not pass the request to someone
else quickly enough.
The queries ended up with the
Inland Revenue Department, which
has a secrecy clause built into the
Tax Administration Act.
Section 81 was meant to protect
taxpayers' private information, but
the department cited it when it
wanted to keep its policy develop-
ment process away from public
In July 2010, Massey University
journalism student Amy Jackman
broke a story in The Wellingtonian
about the Government's plan to
unleash private sector debt
collectors on student loan
Ms Jackman is now a reporter
with The Wellingtonian's sister
paper, the Upper Hutt Leader.
When the debt-collecting plan
was introduced early this year, it
had been reined in and private debt
collectors were employed only to
trace defaulters who had moved
In July last year The
Wellingtonian asked under the
Official Information Act for a report
by consultants Burleigh Evatt
about how student loan collection
could be privatised.
It also asked how a collection
company would be structured, how
its shares would be owned, how
much student borrowers owed, how
much had been written off the pre-
vious year, how much the Govern-
ment expected to recover that year,
which, if any, of Inland Revenue's
far-reaching powers would be avail-
able to private agencies, and when
the loans were planned to be privat-
The request went to Treasury,
the Inland Revenue Department,
Finance Minister Bill English,
Social Development Minister
Paula Bennett and Tertiary Edu-
cation Minister Steven Joyce.
Under the Official Information
Act, government departments have
20 working days to respond to
At the end of the period, they
each passed it to someone else, in
the process re-setting the 20-day
Inland Revenue policy manager
Keith Taylor said the department
was not the appropriate agency to
respond, but the Education Minis-
try was. He passed some questions
to Mr Joyce and the rest to Ms Ben-
nett. Mr English did the same.
The Treasury referred part of the
request to Ms Bennett and the rest
to Education Minister Ann Tolley.
Neither Ms Bennett nor Ms Tolley
Mr Joyce split up the questions,
sending some to Ms Bennett and,
completing the circle, passing the
rest to back to Inland Revenue.
Finally on August 27, 2010, Mr
He declined the requests, citing
Section 81.1 of the Tax Adminis-
tration Act, 1994 -- the tax secrecy
provisions. The Wellingtonian com-
plained to the Ombudsman.
After more than a year of corre-
spondence and consideration,
Ombudsman David McGee ruled
that Inland Revenue was the appro-
priate agency to respond, and that
it was entitled to apply the Section
81 secrecy provisions to policy as
well as taxpayer privacy.
Whether secrecy provisions, such
as Section 81, were always necess-
ary or whether they ought to be
interpreted so widely were legit-
imate policy questions, he said.
Ultimately, this is a matter for
determination by Parliament when
it is passing the legislation con-
cerned,'' he wrote.
Mr McGee said he intended to
draw Parliament's attention to
those issues, but was bound to give
effect to existing laws.
Shedding light on Courtenay Place
New ways of interpreting our
environments is the theme of a
Courtenay Place light box exhi-
bition, Imaginary Geographies.
Artists from New Zealand,
Australia, Mexico and Korea have
combined real and imagined
landscapes in an effort to encourage
passers-by to take a fresh look at
Links Archive December 1st 2011 December 15th 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page