FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1982
Pt II substituted by No 51 of 2010, s 3 and Sch 2 item 3, effective 1 May 2011. No 51 of 2010. Pt II formerly read:
PART II - PUBLICATION OF CERTAIN DOCUMENTS AND INFORMATIONSECTION 8 Publication of information concerning functions and documents of agencies
The responsible Minister of an agency shall:
(a) cause to be published, as soon as practicable after the commencement of this Part but not later than 12 months after that commencement, in a form approved by the Minister administering this Act:
(i) a statement setting out particulars of the organization and functions of the agency, indicating, as far as practicable, the decision-making powers and other powers affecting members of the public that are involved in those functions;
(ii) a statement setting out particulars of any arrangements that exist for bodies or persons outside the Commonwealth administration to participate, either through consultative procedures, the making of representations or otherwise, in the formulation of policy by the agency, or in the administration by the agency, of any enactment or scheme;
(iii) a statement of the categories of documents that are maintained in the possession of the agency, being categories that comply with subsection (6);
(iv) a statement of particulars of the facilities, if any, provided by the agency for enabling members of the public to obtain physical access to the documents of the agency; and
(v) a statement of any information that needs to be available to the public concerning particular procedures of the agency in relation to Part III , and particulars of the officer or officers to whom, and the place or places at which, initial inquiries concerning access to documents may be directed; and
(b) during the year commencing on 1 January next following the publication, in respect of the agency, of the statement under subparagraph (a)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv) or (v) that is the first statement published under that subparagraph, and during each succeeding year, cause to be published statements bringing up to date the information contained in the previous statement or statements published under that subparagraph.
In approving a form under subsection (1), the Minister shall have regard, amongst other things, to the need to assist members of the public to exercise effectively their rights under this Act.
The information to be published in accordance with this section shall be published by including it:
(a) in the annual report of the agency to the responsible Minister of the agency relating to the activities, operations, business or affairs of the agency; or
(b) if there is no such report - in the annual report of the Department, or a Department, administered by the responsible Minister of the agency relating to the activities, operations, business or affairs of the Department.
Nothing in this section requires the publication of information that is of such a nature that its inclusion in a document of an agency would cause that document to be an exempt document.
Subsection (1) applies in relation to an agency that comes into existence after the commencement of this Part as if the references in that subsection to the commencement of this Part were references to the day on which the agency comes into existence.
The categories referred to in subparagraph (1)(a)(iii) include, but are not limited to, the following categories:
(a) any documents referred to in paragraph 12(1)(b) ;
(b) any documents referred to in paragraph 12(1)(c) ;
(c) any other documents, if the documents are customarily made available to the public:
(i) otherwise than under this Act; andSECTION 9 Certain documents to be available for inspection and purchase
(ii) free of charge upon request.
This section applies, in respect of an agency, to documents that are provided by the agency for the use of, or are used by, the agency or its officers in making decisions or recommendations, under or for the purposes of an enactment or scheme administered by the agency, with respect to rights, privileges or benefits, or to obligations, penalties or other detriments, to which persons are or may be entitled or subject, being:
(a) manuals or other documents containing interpretations, rules, guidelines, practices or precedents including, but without limiting the generality of the foregoing, precedents in the nature of letters of advice providing information to bodies or persons outside the Commonwealth administration;
(b) documents containing particulars of such a scheme, not being particulars contained in an enactment as published apart from this Act;
(c) documents containing statements of the manner, or intended manner, of administration or enforcement of such an enactment or scheme; or
(d) documents describing the procedures to be followed in investigating breaches or evasions or possible breaches or evasions of such an enactment or of the law relating to such a scheme;
but not including documents that are available to the public as published otherwise than by an agency or as published by another agency.
The principal officer of an agency shall:
(a) cause copies of all documents to which this section applies in respect of the agency that are in use from time to time to be made available for inspection and for purchase by members of the public;
(b) cause to be prepared by a day not later than the relevant day in relation to the agency, and as soon as practicable after preparation to be made available, for inspection and for purchase by members of the public, at each Information Access Office, a statement (which may take the form of an index) specifying the documents of which copies are, at the time of preparation of the statement, available in accordance with paragraph (a) and the place or places where copies may be inspected and may be purchased; and
(c) cause to be prepared within 3 months, if practicable, and in any case not later than 12 months, after the preparation of the last preceding statement prepared in accordance with paragraph (b) or this paragraph, and as soon as practicable after preparation to be made available, for inspection and for purchase by members of the public, at each Information Access Office, a statement bringing up to date the information contained in that last preceding statement.
For the purposes of subsection (2):
(a) the relevant day in relation to an agency is:
(i) in the case of an agency that was in existence before the commencement of the Freedom of Information Laws Amendment Act 1986 - the first day after the commencement of that Act by which the agency, if the amendments made by that Act to subsection (2) of this section had not been made, would have been required under that subsection to publish a statement in the Gazette ; and
(ii) in the case of an agency that comes into existence on or after the commencement of the Freedom of Information Laws Amendment Act 1986 - the day that occurs 12 months after the day on which the agency comes into existence; and
(b) Information Access Office means a place that is an Information Access Office for the purposes of section 28 .
The principal officer is not required to comply fully with paragraph (2)(a) before the expiration of 12 months after the commencement of this Part, but shall, before that time, comply with that paragraph so far as is practicable.
This section does not require a document of the kind referred to in subsection (1) containing exempt matter to be made available in accordance with subsection (2), but, if such a document is not so made available, the principal officer of the agency, or an officer of the agency acting within the scope of authority exercisable by him or her in accordance with arrangements approved by the responsible Minister or principal officer of the agency, shall, if practicable, cause to be prepared a corresponding document, altered only to the extent necessary to exclude the exempt matter, and cause the document so prepared to be dealt with in accordance with subsection (2).
The Minister may, by writing under his or her hand, extend, in respect of the Commissioner of Taxation, the time specified in paragraph (2)(b) or subsection (3) where he or she is satisfied, after consulting the Minister who is the responsible Minister in relation to the Commissioner of Taxation, that it is reasonable to extend the time by reason of special circumstances applicable to the Commissioner of Taxation.
Where the Minister is satisfied, after consulting the Minister who is the responsible Minister in relation to the Commissioner of Taxation, that the form or nature of the documents to which this section applies in respect of the Commissioner of Taxation that are in existence at the commencement of this Part, or of some of those documents, is such that complete compliance with this section in respect of those documents would impose on the Commissioner of Taxation such a workload as would unreasonably divert his or her resources from his or her other operations, the first-mentioned Minister may, by writing under his or her hand, direct that the application of this section in respect of the Commissioner of Taxation is to be subject to such modifications as he or she specifies, being modifications that, in his or her opinion, are reasonably required by reason of the circumstances referred to in this subsection.
The report of the Minister under section 93 in respect of a year shall include:
(a) particulars of any extensions of time made, or directions given, under this section by the Minister during that year; and
(b) a statement concerning compliance by agencies with the requirements of this section during that year.
Where a person makes a request to inspect or to purchase a document of an agency concerning a particular enactment or scheme, being a document of a kind to which this section applies, the principal officer of the agency shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the attention of that person is drawn to any document of the agency concerning that enactment or scheme that is relevant to the request and has become a document to which this section applies since the last occasion on which a statement in respect of documents of the agency was prepared and made available in accordance with subsection (2).
Subsection (3) applies in relation to an agency that comes into existence after the commencement of this Part as if the reference in that subsection to the commencement of this Part were a reference to the day on which the agency comes into existence. SECTION 10 Unpublished documents not to prejudice public
If a document required to be made available in accordance with section 9 , being a document containing a rule, guideline or practice relating to a function of an agency, was not made available, or was not included in a statement made available at each Information Access Office, as referred to in that section, before the time at which a person did, or omitted to do, any act or thing relevant to the performance of that function in relation to him or her (whether or not the time allowed for publication of a statement in respect of the document had expired before that time), that person, if he or she was not aware of that rule, guideline or practice at that time, shall not be subjected to any prejudice by reason only of the application of that rule, guideline or practice in relation to the thing done or omitted to be done by him or her if he or she could lawfully have avoided that prejudice had he or she been aware of that rule, guideline or practice.
The reference in subsection (1) to the time at which a person did, or omitted to do, any act or thing relevant to the performance in relation to him or her of a function of an agency does not include a reference to a time earlier than:
(a) the expiration of the period of 12 months referred to in paragraph 9(2)(b) or, if the agency is the Commissioner of Taxation and that period has been extended in respect of the agency under subsection 9(5) , the expiration of the period as extended; or
(b) the expiration of the period of 12 months after the day on which the agency came into existence;
whichever is the later.
In subsection (1):
Information Access Office
means a place that is an Information Access Office for the purposes of section 28 .
Div 1 inserted by No 51 of 2010, s 3 and Sch 2 item 3, effective 1 May 2011.
This Part establishes an information publication scheme for agencies.
Each agency must publish a plan showing how it proposes to implement this Part.
An agency must publish a range of information including information about what the agency does and the way it does it, as well as information dealt with or used in the course of its operations, some of which is called operational information.
In addition, an agency may publish other information held by the agency.
Information published by an agency must be kept accurate, up-to-date and complete.
An agency is not required to publish exempt matter. An agency is also not required to publish information if prohibited by another enactment.
The information (or details of how to access the information) must be published on a website. If there is a charge for accessing the information, the agency must publish details of the charge.
An agency must, in conjunction with the Information Commissioner, review the operation of the scheme in the agency every 5 years (if not earlier).
An agency must have regard to the objects of this Act, and guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner, in doing anything for the purposes of this Part.
If operational information is not published in accordance with this Part, a person must not be subjected to any prejudice as a result of not having access to the information.
S 7A inserted by No 51 of 2010, s 3 and Sch 2 item 3, effective 1 May 2011.