Last updated 1 September 2016
There is no application fee for a federal freedom of information request.
For access to information requests lodged with a Queensland agency or minister, the application fee is $44.85, unless the documents requested relate to the personal information of the applicant, in which case there is no application fee.
Personal information of the applicant
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (Freedom of Information Act), the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (Right to Information Act) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (Information Privacy Act) define personal information to mean information or an opinion about an individual whose identity is apparent or can be ascertained from the information. It includes information or an opinion:
- that forms part of a database
- whether true or not
- whether recorded in a material form or not.
Under the Right to Information and the Information Privacy Acts, the scope of personal information applies to the collection, storage, handling, accessing, amendment, transfer, use and disclosure of personal information, regardless of when it came into existence.
Whether information is personal information depends, to a large extent, on the facts and circumstances. Personal information generally includes information about the private or personal aspects of a person’s life, including their health, personal relationships and domestic or living arrangements. It also includes information that would identify a person such as their name, address, date of birth, religious or political affiliations and their personal financial arrangements. However, personal information does not normally include information about a person’s business, professional or workplace activities, although employment-related matters are not always clear. If in doubt, applicants should discuss their application with an agency representative before lodgement.
Charges for searching and supervising access
Under the Freedom of Information Act, other charges include:
- time spent searching for the requested documents—$15 per hour
- the first five hours of time spent in making the initial decision about whether or not to grant access—free; any subsequent decision-making time—$20 per hour
- a written transcript of recorded information—$4.40 per page
- a document to be inspected—$6.25 per 30 minutes.
No charges apply under the Freedom of Information Act for requests for accessing documents relating to personal information, or for the internal review of an initial decision about whether or not to grant access.
Under the Right to Information Act, processing charges apply only if an agency or minister spends more than five hours processing an application. If the time taken is greater than five hours, a fee of $6.95 per 15 minutes applies for each activity (including the first five hours). Access charges (which include the cost of engaging another agency to search for and retrieve a document) apply to all applications under the Right to Information Act unless they are waived. The Right to Information Act fee regime has an elaborate procedure that requires the agency to consult first with the applicant about the proposed fees and charges. Special consideration in relation to fees may be given to non-profit organisations. The Queensland Information Commissioner may also waive processing charges at external review due to the agency or minister having delayed their decision (ss 65, 93(2) Right to Information Act).