Right to Information Decisions
Deferral or Refusal of a request
The Tasmanian Act empowers decision makers to refuse a request if the request is for information that they have already made available (s12), the request unreasonably diverts resources of a public authority (s19), or the application is repeat request or vexatious (s20).
A deferral may also be an outcome of an application. This means that the public authority or Minister can defer providing the information if it is information prepared for presentation to Parliament that has not yet been presented, or where the information has already been marked for disclosure at a later date, not exceeding 12 months (s17).
Who makes the decision?
The person who makes the decision is either the responsible Minister, a principal officer, or a delegated officer. (s21). The Principal Officer of a public authority or a Minister has the power to delegate the decision making power (s24).
Reasons for the decision
A decision maker who decides that:
- information is exempt information; or
- defers provisions of information (s17); or
- views the request as unreasonably diverting resources (s19); or
- as a repeat or vexatious request (s20)
is required to give reasons for the decision, the name and designation of the person who made the decision, the right to apply for review, who to apply to for review, and the time within which to apply for a review (s22). There is a discretion as to whether to confirm the existence of the information requested where the information was classed as exempt information (s22(4)).
Nature of the information
Information not Available Under RtI
Information is available in other forms from the government. This includes information published by public authorities, such as annual reports. Section 9 of the Tasmanian Act states that requests cannot be made for information that are already accessible to the public, including records that are available for a reasonable cost.
Under section 36 of the Tasmanian Act, personal information of a person is exempt from disclosure to a third party if its disclosure would reasonably be of concern to the third party and it is contrary to the public interst to disclose the information. Bob can make an application for Sally’s personal information, but before it is released Sally will be consulted and an assessment of the public interest will occur. For instance, if Bob wants Sally’s address and Sally has a restraint order against Bob then Bob would not get the information.
In Tasmania, you can make a request for information concerning herself under the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 (Tas) (PIP Act). The PIP Act process should meet the same timleines as an RTI act request, but is not subject to the application fee or other restrictions.
If a public authority refuses to deal with you under the PIP Act then your application becomes a formal application for assessed disclosure.