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Right to Information

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to access your personal records, patient files or other personal information held by the Department of Health and Human Services please see personal information.

The Right to Information Act 2009 (the Act) commenced on 1 July 2010 and provides far greater access to information held by public authorities by:

  • authorising and encouraging greater routine disclosure of information held by public authorities without the need for requests or applications
  • authorising and encouraging greater active disclosure of information held by public authorities in response to informal requests without the need for applications
  • giving members of the public an enforceable right to information held by public authorities, and
  • providing that access to information held by public authorities is restricted in only limited circumstances, which are defined in the Act.

The Act replaces the former Freedom of Information Act 1991.

 

Why do we have a Right to Information Act?

Section 3 of the Act includes a statement of the objects of the Act:

  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; and

(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.

A person has a legally enforceable right to be provided, in accordance with the Act, with official information in the possession of the Department of Health and Human Services unless the information is exempt  information.

The Act sets out the processes for the release of information, where requests may be refused and how to seek a review of a decision by a public authority about the release of information.


What is Exempt Information?

The Right to Information Act recognises that some information held by a public authority should not be released. The types of information that may be withheld from release include:

  • Executive Council information
  • Cabinet information
  • internal briefing information of a Minister in connection with the official business of a public authority and in connection with the Minister's Parliamentary duty
  • information not relating to official business
  • information affecting national or state security, defence or international relations
  • information relating to the enforcement of the law *
  • information that is protected by Legal professional privilege *
  • information related to a closed meeting of a Council *
  • information communicated by other government jurisdictions *
  • internal deliberative (working) information *
  • personal information *
  • information relating to business affairs of third party *
  • information relating to the business affairs of the a public authority *
  • information obtained in confidence *
  • information about procedures and criteria used in financial, commercial and labour negotiations, the execution of contracts, the defence prosecution and settlement of cases and similar activities *
  • information that is likely to affect the State’s economy *
  • information that is likely to affect the cultural heritage and natural resources of the State *

* These exemptions are subject to a public interest test. The matters which must be considered in deciding whether disclosure of information is contrary to the public interest are set out in Schedule 1 of the Right to Information Act. The matters that are irrelevant in deciding if the disclosure of the information is contrary to the public interest are specified in Schedule 2 of the Right to Information Act.