Right to Information
Information disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009
What is the Right to Information?
The Right to Information Act 2009 came into effect on 1 July 2010. The Act allows for greater access to information held by government bodies, including:
- authorising and encouraging routine disclosures of information held by public authorities in response to informal requests without applications;
- giving members of the public an enforceable right to information held by public authorities; and
- ensuring that access to information held by government bodies is restricted only in limited circumstances, as defined in the Act.
Flinders Council is a public authority.
Why do we have a Right to Information Act?
Section 3 of the Act states:
(1) The object of this Act is to improve democratic government in Tasmania -
(a) by increasing the accountability of the executive to the people of Tasmania;
(b) by increasing the ability of the people of Tasmania to participate in their governance; and
(c) by 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.
(2) This object is to be pursued by giving members of the public the right to obtain information held by public authorities and Ministers.
(3) This object is also to be pursued by giving members of the public the right to obtain information about the operations of Government.
(4) It is the intention of Parliament -
(a) that this Act be interpreted so as to further the object set out in subsection (1); and
(b) that discretions conferred by this Act be exercised so as to facilitate and promote, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost, the provision of the maximum amount of official information.
How do I get access to information?
Under the Right to Information Act 2009 Flinders Council is required to make information available to the public. Council routinely makes available information that will assist the public in understanding what it does and how it does it. This may be done via the Council website, by publishing fact sheets or discussion papers, or through the Annual Plan, Annual Report and other reporting systems. Some information is not released this way, either because it is not thought to be of public interest or because it first needs to be assessed against the exemptions in the Right to Information Act 2009.
If you cannot find the information you are looking for from one of the sources below, Council may be able to provide it to you or to assist you with your search. If the information is not freely available, we will assist you in making an application for an Assessed Disclosure.
Direct from Council
Search the Council website
Search our Annual Plans and Reports
Search our publications
Phone Flinders Council
Email Council - firstname.lastname@example.org
Through the Service Tasmania Network
Search the Service Tasmania website – www.service.tas.gov.au
Visit a Service Tasmania Office
Phone Service Tasmania on 1300 13 55 13
Contact Service Tasmania via their online form www.service.tas.gov.au/contact/ask/
Search for the information on Tasmania Online (it may be available from another source) – www.tas.gov.au
The Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office (TAHO)
If the information is old it may be held with the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office.
Search the TAHO website - www.archives.tas.gov.au/database
Call TAHO on 03 6233 7488
Email TAHO on email@example.com
Applications for Assessed Disclosure
Address applications to:
Right to Information Officer
4 Davies Street
Whitemark TAS 7255
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download an Application for Assessed Disclosure form.
If you do not use the Application for Assessed Disclosure form, your application must be made in writing and still include the information requested in the Assessed Disclosure form. This is a requirement (Regulation 4) of the Right to Information Regulations 2010.
Applications need to be made to the council holding, or most likely to be linked to, the requested information, and must be accompanied by an application fee.
You may apply for a fee waiver if:
- you can provide evidence of financial hardship;
- you are a member of parliament and the application is in connection with official duties; or
- you are able to provide evidence showing that the information sought is intended to be used for a purpose that is of general public interest or benefit.
Please note: search thoroughly for the information before you make a formal application. If the information is found to be freely available, the Application for Assessed Disclosure may be refused and the application fee will not be returned.
What will we do once we have your application?
We will check the application to see that the correct information has been provided along with the application fee (which might be waived in certain cases). If Flinders Council believes another public authority is better placed to provide you with the information, your application will be transferred there. Before your application is accepted, Council might contact you to ask some questions to assist in processing your request.
A Council Officer will then assess your application against the Right to Information Act 2009. Council will notify you in writing of the outcome of your request within 20 working days from the application being accepted. If your request is complex, or is seeking a large amount of information, Council may request more time for processing. If third parties need to be consulted about business affairs or for personal information, more time for processing is automatically granted. In this situation, Council will inform you that it requires more time and notify you of the outcome of your request as soon as practicable, but no later than 40 working days.
If the application, or part thereof, is refused the reasons for this must be provided to the requestor, along with information on their right to seek a review of the decision.
If the officer assessing your request does not contact you in the timeframe allowed then your application has been refused and you are able to make an Application for Review to the Ombudsman. Information on reviews by the Ombudsman can be found at the Office of the Ombudsman’s website.
Right to Information Manual and Guidelines
The Manual and Guidelines provides more detail on making requests under the Right to Information Act 2009 and how these are processed by different agencies.
The Manual and Guidelines are available from the Office of the Ombudsman’s website
Related Acts and Regulations
View, download and print from the Tasmanian Legislation Online:
Right to Information Regulations 2010