Locke hails retention of open of access to BDM records

Green Party MP Keith Locke has praised the Government for dropping the much criticised restrictions on public access in the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Amendment Bill.

Mr Locke, the party’s Human Rights Spokesperson, has been sitting on the Government Administration Select Committee, which is considering the Bill.

“This is a major victory for freedom of information. The Bill had horrified genealogists, historians and journalists throughout the country because it shut off the public access to births, deaths and marriages which we have had since 1848.

“The Government’s backdown is another achievement for MMP politics, with parties of different ideologies working together to keep our traditionally open access to such records. United Future leader Peter Dunne and myself made a joint presentation against locking up access for 50, 80 or 100 years after a person was born, married or died, as the original Bill proposed.

“The Green Party is generally happy with the safeguard provisions put forward by the Minister. Asking applicants for records to provide identification, and their applications to be recorded on an access register is not particularly onerous.

“The provision for individuals to hide their own records, needs to be qualified with a public interest criteria. In the original bill, for example, if a person publicly mentioned their age they could then not prevent others from checking their birth date on the register,” Mr Locke says.