Freedom of Information
The purpose of freedom of information ('FoI") legislation is to allow
citizens to access information in possession of governments. It's all about
open government. You can use FoI to access documents
about government or documents about yourself.
For general information about FoI, visit the federal government's FoI website:
site contains useful information including:
of FoI exemptions, explaining which documents are exempt from FoI (formerly FoI Memo No. 98)
and charges, including how to apply for waiver of fees (formerly FoI Memo No.29)
- what to look for in a statement
of reasons when your FoI request is rejected
(formerly FoI Memo No.26)
Principles and Procedures guidelines for FOI officers
in government. Your attention is drawn to the "Brazil Direction" in Schedule
2 of this document, relating
to exemptions for claims of legal professional privilege (section 42).
In April 2008, the NSW Ombudsman has announced an 'own-motion' review
of NSW freedom of information legislation.
The Queensland government is undertaking a review
of Queensland Freedom of Information legislation. A very informative discussion
paper has been released and public comment is invited by Friday 7 March
Law Reform Commission is undertaking a review
of federal FOI legsilation and is expected to report back to government
by the end of 2008. In initial submissions, CCL has recommended:
- the 'legal professional privilege' exemption apply only to legal advice
provided for the purpose of litigation, not to all legal advice given to
- NGOs be granted a waiver of FOI fees
- the public interest should be an overriding consideration
- conclusive certificates should be abolished.
The federal government has freedom of information legislation:
All States and Territories also have freedom of information legislation:
Some States have Information Commissioners:
open government: FoI inquiries
There are several important Parliamentary Inquiries about FoI:
Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Freedom
of Information (1979).
Australian Law Reform Commission, Open
government: a review of the federal Freedom of Information Act 1982,
ALRC 77 (1995).
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has also released two important reports about
the administration of FoI:
The Auditor-General, in 2004, released a report on the Administration of Freedom
In 2007, the NSW Parliamentary Library issued a research paper on freedom
of information called Freedom
of Information: Issues and Recent Development in NSW. The paper describes
recent developments in FOI law and is a very useful resource.
In 2007, the Queensland government established an independent review
of Queensland Freedom of Information legislation. This inquiry is ongoing.
In 2007, the ALRC began a review
of federal FOI legsilation. This inquiry is ongoing.
In April 2008, the NSW Ombudsman announced areview
of NSW freedom of information legislation. This inquiry is ongoing.