Your right to access information held by Glen Innes Severn Council is governed by the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act). The GIPA Act began on 1 July 2010, replacing the Freedom of Information Act 1989 and Section 12 of the Local Government Act 1993.
As part of this reform, the GIPA Act:
- upholds rights to information that are designed to meet community expectations of more open and transparent government;
- maintains there is a presumption in favour of the disclosure of government information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure;
- authorises and encourages government agencies to proactively release government information;
- makes it possible for government agencies to release information informally, without the need to submit a formal access application;
- requires that a government agency must release information unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure; and
- provides applicants with review rights around information access decisions.
Release of information by Council under the GIPA Act will be determined by the public interest test, as provided by section 13 of the Act.
You can find out more about right to information, the public interest test and the ways to access government information under the GIPA Act on the NSW Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) website at https://www.ipc.nsw.gov.au/. The IPC is an independent statutory authority responsible for overseeing the provisions of the GIPA Act. Please note the IPC does not and is unable to provide legal advice to stakeholders.
Accessing Council Information
There are four ways in which government information is available under the GIPA Act:
1. Mandatory release:
State and local government agencies are required to publish specific Open Access Information on their website, free of charge, unless if doing so would impose unreasonable additional costs on the agency. This Open Access Information is listed below.
2. Proactive release:
State and local government agencies are encouraged to make as much other information as possible publicly available in an appropriate manner, including online. The information should be available free of charge or at the lowest reasonable cost. For example, frequently requested information or information of public interest may be made readily available.
3. Informal release request:
State and local government agencies are authorised to release other information in response to an informal request, subject to any reasonable conditions an agency imposes, without the need for an application to be lodged under Formal Access. Council encourages applications for access to information to be made, initially, under the informal request provisions set out in Section 8 of the GIPA Act. Council’s Access to Information Policy, Access to Information Guidelines and Agency Information Guide list the types of information that is available. Complete the Informal Request for Information Form to make an informal information request. (No fee is required for an Informal Request, however, fees not exceeding Council’s photocopying charges will apply in accordance with Council’s adopted Fees and Charges).
4. Formal release application:
Under Part 4 of the GIPA Act, Council can release information in response to a formal access application. This is the last resort for obtaining Council information if it is not available in any other way. Generally, a Formal Access Application is required if your application involves:
- a large volume of information,
- sensitive or confidential information;
- estimated processing time exceeds 1 hour;
- extensive research and substantial resources are required or
- the information requested relates to third parties who will need to be consulted prior to release of the information.
and submit to Council with a $30 Formal Application fee (statutory charge under the GIPA Act). Please note that $30 hourly processing charges may also apply.
Section 41 of the GIPA Act lists the formal requirements for making a valid access application:
- it must be in writing sent to or lodged at Council;
- it must clearly indicate that it is an access application made under the GIPA Act;
- it must be accompanied by a $30 application fee;
- it must state a postal address in Australia as the address for correspondence in connection with the application;
- it must include such information as is reasonably necessary to enable the government information applied for to be identified.
Upon receipt of a valid access application, Council must give the applicant notice of its decision within 20 working days, although this time can be extended under section 57(2) to consult with third parties or retrieve information from archives. Processing charges at a rate of $30 per hour may also apply as part of deciding the application.
Applicants aggrieved with a reviewable decision set out under section 80 of the GIPA Act have the right to request a review of that decision.
This Fact Sheet outlines your rights to access government information:
How can I get Council information?
Council is required to publish the following open access information under section 18 of the GIPA Act:
- Agency Information Guide
- Policy Documents
- Disclosure Log of Access Applications
- Register of Government Contracts
- Designated Persons Disclosure of Interest Return
- Record of Open Access Information not publicly available
- Other information as prescribed by the regulations as open access (see below)
Council is required to publish the following additional open access information under Schedule 1 to the Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2009 (NSW) (GIPA Regulation):
- Code of Meeting Practice
- Code of Conduct for Council Staff
- Code of Conduct for Councillors
- Code of Conduct for Council Committee Members, Delegates of Council and Council Advisers
- Council Meetings
- Council Plans and Reports
- Council Policies and Procedures
- Information about Development Applications
- Information about Approvals, Orders and Other Documents.
Other open data information about Council can also be found at data.nsw.gov.au.
Disclosure of Interests Returns (Councillors and Designated Persons)
Where can I get more information about right to information?
- Go to https://www.ipc.nsw.gov.au/
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call 1800 472 679 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).