Right to Information
Right to Information (or RTI) is the State Government’s legislation which gives members of the public the right to obtain information held by public authorities and Ministers, and about the operations of Government. The Right to Information Act 2009 (‘RTI Act’) commenced on 1 July 2010, replacing the Freedom of Information Act 1991 (‘FOI Act’).
Like the FOI Act, the RTI Act gives members of the public a legally enforceable right to be provided with information in the possession of a public authority or a Minister unless the information is exempt information. However, the RTI Act goes further by encouraging public authorities to be more proactive and responsive in disclosing information.
The objective of the RTI Act is to improve democratic government in Tasmania by:
- increasing the accountability of the executive (Government) to the people of Tasmania;
- increasing the ability of the people of Tasmania to participate in their governance; and
- 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.
The RTI Act recognises four categories of information disclosure:
Assessed Disclosure is meant to be ‘the method of last resort’. Public authorities are expected to release as much relevant information as possible in response to enquiries (Active Disclosure) or that may be of public interest (Routine Disclosure) without the need for a formal application and assessment process.
- Required Disclosure – information that is required by law to be published, such as an annual report.
- Routine Disclosure – information of interest to the public that is released on a routine basis, such as statistics.
- Active Disclosure – information that is freely released upon request without the need for a formal application and assessment process.
- Assessed Disclosure – information that is released on application after it has been formally assessed under the provisions of the RTI Act.
You have the right to request any information held by this Department. Where we can we will give you this information at no cost. However, some sensitive information, such as personal or business information, may need more formal assessment before we decide whether it can be released (see Assessed Disclosure below for details).
Part 3 of the RTI Act lists the grounds under which information may be exempt from release. The Department is not obliged to release exempt information. For a copy of the Right to Information Act 2009 (‘RTI Act’) go to www.thelaw.tas.gov.au
The Department routinely releases information through this website www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au and publications such as fact sheets, magazines, newsletters and the annual report. You can access most information via the division listing on the home page or do a search of the website or publications list.
The Department also maintains a Routine Disclosure Register to highlight and facilitate access to key information likely to be of interest to the public. The Routine Disclosure Register will be available on this website soon.
Please contact the Department if you cannot find what you are looking for and we will try to help you. The contact details for each division are available under ‘Contact Us’ on the Department’s home page www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au
In most cases you will be put in contact with the Department’s division most likely to hold the information you are seeking. If we need to clarify your request we will do this promptly and notify you when we are able to act on it.
If all or part of your request is more closely related to the functions of another agency it will be promptly transferred to the other agency and you will be notified accordingly.
Many requests will be responded to without reference to the RTI Act. However, if you specifically ask for your request to be treated as a RTI request, you will be directed to the RTI Co-ordinator.
Contact: Right to Information Co-ordinatorGPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 03 6233 5581 or 03 6233 8945
If after collating the information relevant to your request the division considers that it would be contrary to the public interest to release some of the information you have requested, the RTI Co-ordinator will contact you. You will be given the option of excluding that information from your request or proceeding with the formal assessment process, Assessed Disclosure.
Before you lodge a RTI request with DPIPWE you are required to check whether the information is readily available, either from our website or from other government departments and bodies.
The Service Tasmania Network:
Via Tasmania online:The Tasmanian Archives Office:
- The Service Tasmania website www.service.tas.gov.au
- or visit a Service Tasmania office
- or call 1300 135 513
- or contact Service Tasmania via their online form, www.service.tas.gov.au/contact/ask
For formal assessment under the RTI Act, you will need to complete a RTI Assessed Disclosure form.
Applications are to be accompanied by an application fee, unless you are claiming an exemption (see below). This fee is currently $36.50 and is indexed on 1 July of each year in accordance with the Fee Units Act 1997. This is the maximum amount the information will cost you.
You may apply to have the fee waived if:
- You are in financial hardship - we would usually ask to see evidence that you are in receipt of Centrelink or Veterans Affairs payments;
- You are a Member of Parliament and the application is in connection with your official duty; or
- You are able to demonstrate that you intend to use the information for a purpose that is of general public interest or benefit.
- Once your payment has been processed the application fee will not be refunded.
We will check your application to make sure we have the information requested and that the application fee is paid or you are eligible for it to be waived. An RTI Officer will then assess your application against the RTI Act and notify you of the outcome as soon as practicable.
If your request is complex or is for a large amount of information we may ask you to grant us more time, or discuss options such as splitting the request and/or releasing information in stages.
If some or all of the information is exempt information, the RTI Officer will explain the reasons to you in writing, as well as your rights if you want an independent review of the decision.
If the RTI Officer assessing your request does not notify you of his/her decision within the timeframe allowed you are entitled to apply to the Ombudsman for resolution of the matter www.ombudsman.tas.gov.au
The RTI Act specifies the timeframe within which the Department must notify an applicant for Assessed Disclosure of the outcome of their request. The timeframe is determined by the ‘Acceptance Date’ and is either 20 or 40 working days following the Acceptance Date, depending on whether consultation with third parties is required for sensitive personal or business-related information. The RTI Officer will advise you if third party consultation is necessary.
The Acceptance Date is the date on which we received your request, or if we need to clarify it with you, it is the date on which we notify you that we are able to act on your request within a maximum of ten working days.
DPIPWE recognises that the Tasmanian people have a right to information held by the Department and will actively provide access to that information.
The RTI Disclosure policy will be available on this website shortly.
You can view, download and print the Right to Information Act 2009 and Right to Information Regulations 2010 at www.thelaw.tas.gov.au
The Tasmanian Ombudsman has produced a Manual and Guidelines concerning implementation of the RTI Act. These are published at www.ombudsman.tas.gov.au