Ireland and New Zealand
A legacy and an assault from within
in The politics of freedom of information
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This chapter looks at two countries that offer deviant cases-one where the legislation was passed through a consensual process and one where it was ‘imposed’ upon a new government by its predecessor.

The Consensus Model in New Zealand: agreement between senior politicians and officials led to a consensual process around developing policy, driven by those who, elsewhere, frequently formed the core resistance to the process (White 2007; Snell 2001). This led to a step-by-step, conciliatory process and a dynamic and flexible law, frequently judged one of the strongest in the world (White 2007; Aitken 1998).

The Imposed Model in Ireland: a series of controversial court cases and a scandal over infected beef in 1990s placed FOI on the agenda of two successive reformist governments. In 1997 legislation was passed as a ‘legacy’ policy in the dying days of a government which was then replaced with a successor deeply sceptical of FOI (Kearney and Stapleton 1998). The process meant FOI became a contentious and controversial issue from its inception (Felle and Adshead 2008). This represents another reason for FOI being passed, seen also in South America, whereby legislation is fostered upon a government as a legacy issue (Michener 2010).

The politics of freedom of information

How and why governments pass laws that threaten their power


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