How Can I Get Council Information?
The four ways in which government information is available under the GIPA Act are:
Open access information (mandatory release)
Council is required to publish the following open access information under section 18 of the GIPA Act:
- current publication guide
- documents tabled in parliament
- policy documents
- disclosure log of access applications
- register of government contracts
- record of open access information not publicly available
- other information as prescribed by the regulations as open access (see below)
Council is required to publish the following additional open access information under Schedule 1 to the Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Regulation):
• Information about council
• Council Plans and Policies
• Information about development applications
• Information about approvals, orders and other documents
Under section 7(3) of the GIPA Act, Council is required to review its proactive release program at least every 12 months, to identify any information we hold that should in the public interest be made publicly available. Clear here to access the information Council has made proactively available.
The informal release provisions under section 8 of the GIPA Act provides Council with the authority to release information without the need for a formal access application.
Information can be informally requested from Council by contacting the Right to Information Officer.
Please note the GIPA Act provides no statutory timeframe by which informal requests must be decided within. Council is not required to disclose government information pursuant to an informal request and is also not required to consider an informal request for government information (s8(3)). Council can decide however by what means information is to be released in response to an informal request (s8(4)).
Making a formal access application
If information can't be accessed through any of the above avenues, a formal access application can be submitted to Council. Council will request a formal application be made for information only as a last resort, likely necessary if an applicant asks for a large volume of information, if providing access would involve an unreasonable diversion of resources on behalf of Council (i.e. extensive search, retrieval from archives), or if the information sought involves personal or business information about third parties that must be consulted before the information can be released.
Section 41 of the GIPA Act lists the formal requirements for making a valid access application:
- it must be in writing sent to or lodged at Council;
- it must clearly indicate that it is an access application made under the GIPA Act;
- it must be accompanied by a $30 application fee;
- it must state a postal address in Australia as the address for correspondence in connection with the application;
- it must include such information as is reasonably necessary to enable the government information applied for to be identified.
Upon receipt of a valid access application, Council must give the applicant notice of its decision within 20 working days, although this time can be extended under section 57(2) to consult with third parties or retrieve information from archives. Processing charges at a rate of $30 per hour may also apply as part of deciding the application.
Applicants aggrieved with a reviewable decision set out under section 80 of the GIPA Act have the right to request a review of that decision. This fact-sheet outlines available review rights under the GIPA Act. http://www.ipc.nsw.gov.au/
Where can I get more information about right to information?
Go to http:www.ipc.nsw.gov.au
Mail GPO Box 7011, Sydney NSW 2001
Visit Level 11, 1 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Call 1800 INFOCOM (1800 463 626) between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).
On 1 July 2010 new right to information legislation came into effect, the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW) (GIPA), repealing and replacing the Freedom of Information Act 1989 (NSW) (FOI Act).
This Disclosure log identifies information and documents that have been released by a formal application process.
As Council makes decisions about open access information that may not be disclosed due to an overriding public interest, it will note this information here. This will detail the information requested and the public interest considerations against disclosure that resulted in Council's decision not to release the information.