Request for information relating to Bureau of Meteorology of Australia peer-review of National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research report on ‘Seven-Station Temperature Series’
The complainant made requests to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) for information it held relating to communications between NIWA and the Bureau of Meteorology (Australia) (BoM) concerning the peer review by BoM of information forming the basis for NIWA’s ‘Report on the Review of NIWA’s ‘Seven-Station’ Temperature Series’ data published on 16 December 2010. The report reviewed New Zealand temperature trends from seven different locations. NIWA refused the requests under section 9(2)(ba)(i) of the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) on the basis the information at issue was subject to an obligation of confidence; its release would prejudice the future supply of similar information; and it was in the public interest that such information should continue to be supplied. (NIWA also relied on other “good reasons” found in section 9(2) to withhold that information.)
I formed the opinion that section 9(2)(ba)(i) provided good reason to refuse the request. In forming my opinion, I took into account the importance of upholding a longstanding and widely accepted scientific convention. Under this convention scientists peer review information provided in confidence by other scientists. NIWA provided the information at issue to BoM for that purpose. Such peer-reviewing contributes to the credibility of scientific research.