Last updated 20 April 2019
Commonwealth Government agencies
Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (Freedom of Information Act), there are a number of ways in which the requested information will be provided by the agency or minister (s 20). Forms of access are:
- providing an opportunity to inspect the document
- giving a copy of the document to the applicant
- making arrangements for the applicant to hear sound recordings or view visual images
- providing the applicant with a written transcript.
Access in a particular form requested by the applicant may be refused where it would unreasonably interfere with the operations of an agency or minister, cause detriment to the preservation of the document or infringe copyright owned by another party. Access must then be given in another form. Charges for providing the material in another form cannot exceed what it would have cost to provide the material in the form requested.
It is also possible that the agency or minister may decide to prepare an edited (also known as redacted) copy of the document requested (s 22 Freedom of Information Act). The agency or minister can delete certain information from the document, but notice must be given to the applicant stating that the document was edited and the reasons why the deletions were made.
Queensland Government agencies
Under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (Right to Information Act), there are number of ways in which the requested information will be provided by the agency or minister (s 68 Right to Information Act). Similar to the Freedom of Information Act, forms of access include inspecting or receiving the document, hearing or viewing multimedia or being provided with a written transcript.
If an application for access to information is successful, the applicant can expect to access the document within 40 business days after the date of the decision, unless the agency or minister has specified an additional period (s 69 Right to Information Act).
The agency or minister may delete information from the document before giving access to the applicant. Reasons for deletions include where the information is irrelevant or exempt (ss 73, 74 Right to Information Act), and where disclosure of certain information would be contrary to the public interest, a child’s best interest or the applicant’s best interests in relation to health care information (ss 75, 75A, 75B Right to Information Act).
How government agencies deal with freedom of information and right to information requests