What is an exemption?
If an exemption validly applies to information you have requested, you are not entitled to it. The provisions relating to exemptions are in Part 3 of the Act, which covers ss25 to 42, and there are 17 grounds for claiming information to be exempt. Each exemption provision contains a series of requirements which must be met before information will be exempt.
Some exemptions are absolute (those contained in Division 1 of Part 3), while others give rise to prime facie exemption but are subject to a public interest test (Division 2). This means that, even though information might meet the requirements for exemption contained in a particular section, it will only truly by exempt if the public authority or Minister considers that it would be contrary to the public interest to release it. If it is in the public interest to release the information, then it should be released to you.
Exemptions that are not subject to the public interest test include exemptions for:
- executive council information;
- cabinet information;
- internal briefing information of a Minister;
- information affecting national or state security, defence or international relations; and
- information relating to enforcement of the law.
Exemptions that are subject to the public interest test include those relating to:
- personal information of a person;
- information relating to business affairs of a third party;
- information relating to business affairs of a public authority;
- information obtained in confidence;
- Information likely to affect cultural, heritage and natural resources of the State.