Queenstown’s council has withheld details contained in decisions issued by a dog control committee panel, despite them being part of a public meeting — and already published, thrice.

On April 24, the panel, comprising councillors Lyal Cocks (chair), Melissa White and Cody Tucker, sat to hear two objections to ‘dangerous’ classifications being slapped on Henry van Asch and Caroline Hutchison’s 9-year-old pet labradoodle, Alfie, and fellow Queenstowner Timothy Hardley’s German pointer-lagotto, Otto.

They were classified following an alleged attack on sheep at Dalefield last October.

The hearings — which were publicly notified by Queenstown’s council, and open to the public — were attended by the Otago Daily Times in Queenstown.

An article was published in the ODT the following day, naming the parties — they were named again in a second story on April 26.

We subsequently asked council for copies of the panel’s decisions and were told that would be treated as an official information request, given the likelihood of ‘‘personal details that would require review and potential redaction’’.

The panel released its decisions last Monday rescinding the classifications.

Another story ran in the ODT last Tuesday, again naming the parties, with comment from Van Asch.

But when council responded to our Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) request on Tuesday, they redacted the
names of the dog owners — which weren’t suppressed by the hearings panel — ‘‘to protect the privacy of natural persons’’.

‘‘In this case, the hearing decisions contain some personal details of the dog owners which we have considered to be private,’’ the LGOIMA response says.

It notes the council’s aware ‘‘the personal details of the dog owners are publicly available’’, but says the redactions are necessary to protect the owners’ privacy ‘‘because it pertained to a hearing process which involved the dog owners and council officials only’’.

‘‘Promoting the accountability and transparency of local authority members and officials is in the public interest, as is the general public interest in ‘good government’,’’ the response says.

‘‘Where possible, we have favoured the release of information.

“However, council does not believe there to be any public interest in releasing any personal details of the members of the public engaging with council.’’

It’s not the first time council staff have suppressed similar information.

Last year, they redacted Kim Turton’s name from another decision after his singing sheepdog, Happy, was also given the ‘dangerous’ classification, which was upheld.

In that case, Turton had already spoken exclusively to Mountain Scene, had been photographed with Happy, and his details published in a report following the hearing.

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