What is Right to Information?
The Right to Information Act 2009
('RTI Act') gives members of the public the right to obtain information held by public authorities and Ministers, and about the operations of Government. The RTI Act commenced on 1 July 2010, replacing the Freedom of Information Act 1991
Like the FOI Act, the RTI Act gives members of the public a legally enforceable right to be provided with information in the possession of a public authority or a Minister unless the information is exempt information. However, the RTI Act goes further by encouraging public authorities to be more proactive and responsive in disclosing information.
Why do we have the RTI Act?
The objective of the RTI Act is to improve democratic government in Tasmania by:
- increasing the accountability of the executive (Government) to the people of Tasmania;
- increasing the ability of the people of Tasmania to participate in their governance; and
- acknowledging that information collected by public authorities is collected for and on behalf of the people of Tasmania and is the property of the State.
Types of Disclosure
The RTI Act establishes four categories of information disclosure:
- Required Disclosure - information that is required by law to be published, such as an annual report.
- Routine Disclosure - information of interest to the public that is released on a routine basis, such as statistics.
- Active Disclosure - information that is freely released upon request without the need for a formal application and assessment process.
- Assessed Disclosure - information that is released on application after it has been formally assessed under the provisions of the RTI Act.
Assessed Disclosure is meant to be the method of last resort. Public authorities are expected to release as much relevant information as possible in response to enquiries (Active Disclosure) or that may be of public interest (Routine Disclosure) without the need for a formal application and assessment process.
How do you obtain information?
The RTI Act sets out the processes for disclosure of information, including when and how requests for assessed disclosure may be refused or deferred, exemptions that can be applied and how to apply for review of decisions.
The Department has a Policy and Procedures on information disclosure:
Information Disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009. Policy and Procedures
Other places to look
Before an applicant lodges a RTI request with DPIPWE you are required to check whether the information is readily available, either from our website or from other government departments and bodies.
The Service Tasmania Network:
Via Tasmania Online:
The Tasmanian Archives Office:
For formal assessment under the RTI Act, you will need to make an application for assessed disclosure.
Applications are to be accompanied by an application fee, unless you are claiming an exemption (see below). This fee is currently $38.75 and is indexed on 1 July of each year in accordance with the Fee Units Act 1997. This is the maximum amount the information will cost you.
The application fee can be paid by:
(a) Cheque or money order made out to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment;
(b) Direct deposit to WESTPAC, BSB 037-001, ACCOUNT 268083; or
(c) Credit card by telephoning DPIPWE's Finance Branch on 03 6165 3122.
You may apply to have the fee waived if:
- You are in financial hardship - we would usually ask to see evidence that you are in receipt of Centrelink or Veterans Affairs payments;
- You are a Member of Parliament and the application is in connection with your official duty; or
- You are able to demonstrate that you intend to use the information for a purpose that is of general public interest or benefit.
- Once your payment has been processed the application fee will not be refunded.
What will we do once we have your application?
We will check your application to make sure we have the information requested and that the application fee is paid or you are eligible for it to be waived. A delegated RTI Officer will then assess your application against the RTI Act and notify you of the outcome as soon as practicable.
If your request is complex or is for a large amount of information we may ask you to grant us more time, or discuss options such as splitting the request and/or releasing information in stages.
If some or all of the information is exempt information, the delegated RTI Officer will explain the reasons to you in writing, as well as your rights if you want an independent review of the decision.
If the delegated RTI Officer assessing your request does not notify you of his/her decision within the timeframe allowed you are entitled to apply to the Ombudsman for resolution of the matter www.ombudsman.tas.gov.au
Timeframes for Assessed Disclosure
The RTI Act specifies the timeframe within which the Department must notify an applicant for Assessed Disclosure of the outcome of their request as follows:
- up to 10 working days following receipt of an application to negotiate with the applicant, after which the application is taken to be accepted (section 15(2));
- up to 20 working days after an application is accepted to notify an applicant of its decision on an application (s.15(1)); and
- up to 20 additional working days to notify an applicant of its decision if it is required to consult one or more third parties under sections 36 and/or 37 (s. 15(5)).
The Acceptance Date is the date on which we received your request, or if we need to clarify it with you, it is the date on which we notify you that we are able to act on your request to a maximum of ten working days.
RTI Disclosure Log
The disclosure log
contains information disclosed to applicants in response to applications for assessed disclosure.
RTI Act and Regulations
Right to Information Manual and Guidelines
The Tasmanian Ombudsman has produced a Manual and Guidelines concerning implementation of the RTI Act. See the Tasmanian Ombudsman website.