Right to Information Process

Right to Information Process

As of July 1 2010, the Right to Information Act 2009 (the RTI Act) replaces the Freedom of Information Act 1991 (the FOI Act) [repealed].

S 7 of the RTI Act gives any person a legally enforceable right to be provided with information in the possession of a public authority or a Minister, provided that it is not exempt information. The Act promotes the proactive release of information by public authorities and Ministers, and refers to four types of disclosure

  • Required disclosures, which are disclosures required by law such as annual reports.
  • Routine disclosures, which are those made by a public authority in relation to information it decides may be of public interest.
  • Active disclosures, which are disclosures in response to a request made other than under the RTI Act, such as an informal request for information by telephone.
  • Assessed disclosures, which are disclosures made in response to a formal request under the RTI Act for information in the possession of a public authority or Minister that is not otherwise available.

The responsibilities of the Ombudsman under the Act include issuing and maintaining Guidelines, and a Manual for users.

Please click here for access to the Manual and Guidelines.

The Ombudsman can also provide oral or written advice on the operation of the Act to a public authority or Minister, either on the Ombudsman's own motion or on the request of a Minister or the principal officer of the authority.

Review of Decisions

The Ombudsman is the review authority under the RTI Act.

Reviews relate to applications for assessed disclosure. Mostly, they occur at the request of the applicant for assessed disclosure, but review rights are also given by the Act to third parties who do not want information released.

The Act gives various grounds for seeking review, but one important ground is the failure of the public authority or Minister to notify the applicant for assessed disclosure of the outcome of the application within the time required by the Act.

The various grounds upon which review by the Ombudsman can be sought are explained in Chapter 9 of the Manual.

If a decision on the application for assessed disclosure was made by a delegated officer in a public authority, you will need to make an application for internal review to the principal officer of the authority before you ask the Ombudsman to carry out a review.

If you are not sure whether you have the right to seek a review from the Ombudsman, click here for further detail, or contact us.

An application for review should be made on the Right to Information Application for Review form.

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Review by the Ombudsman

The Act gives the Ombudsman wide powers in relation to the conduct of reviews, including the power to give directions to the parties, and to promote settlement of a review application.

The Ombudsman is obliged to use these powers to resolve an application for review as soon as practicable after its receipt. Where the application cannot be resolved, the Ombudsman must ensure that a decision on the review is made as soon as practicable. The Ombudsman will normally only proceed to make a formal decision on an application for review when it is clear that there is no other way of resolving the issues between the parties.

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