Right to Information
What is the Right to Information?
The Right to Information Act 2009 commenced on 1 July 2010 and gives members of the public the right to obtain information contained in the records of the Government and public authorities.
The Act does this 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 government bodies is restricted in only limited circumstances which are defined in the Act.
The Launceston City Council is a public authority.
Why do we have a Right to Information Act?
Briefly, the objective of this Tasmanian Act is to improve democratic government, increase executive accountability and increase the ability of the people of Tasmania to participate in their governance. This is done 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; and
- Giving members of the public the right to obtain information held by public authorities and Ministers, and the right to information about the operations of Government.
How do I get access to information?
The Council is required by the Right to Information Act 2009 to make information available to the public through proactive disclosure. This means we are to routinely make information available that will assist the public in understanding what we do and how we do it.
This may be done via our website, through publications (e.g. fact sheets, or discussion papers), or via reports (e.g. our Annual Report).
Some information is not released in this way, either because it is not of general public interest or because it is information the Council would need to assess against the exemptions in the Right to Information Act 2009 prior to disclosure.
If you can't find the information on the Council's website, please contact the Council's Customer Service Centre by calling in personally or by calling 03 6323 3000.
You could also try contacting:
Service Tasmania network
Phone: 1300 13 55 13
Visit: Your nearest Service Tasmania office
Contact: using their online form - www.service.tas.gov.au/contact/ask/
If the information you're after is not freely available, we will assist you to make an application for an assessed disclosure.
How to make an application for assessed disclosure?
Right to Information Application for Assessed Disclosure Form (PDF 214KB)
If you are not using the form, please note that your application must be made in writing and include the information requested in the form - this is a requirement of Regulation 4 of the Right to Information Regulations 2010.
The application will also need to be accompanied by the application fee. Please refer to the form for the current rate (the fee is indexed annually).
The fee may be waived if:
- You are in financial hardship (we take that to mean you are on income support payments - we would usually ask to see evidence that you are in receipt of a Centrelink or Veterans Affairs payment);
- You are a member of parliament and the application is in connection with your official duty; or
- You are able to verify that the information sought is intended to be used for a purpose that is of general public interest or benefit.
Please make sure you have looked for the information before you make a formal application, because if the information is otherwise available your application may be refused without the return of your application fee.
What will we do once we have your application?
1) We will check your application to make sure we have the information we need and that you have paid the application fee (or we will waive the fee).
2) We may transfer your application to another public authority if we do not believe we are best placed to provide you with the information.
3) Before your application is accepted, we may need to contact you to ask you about your application, this will help us to understand your request.
4) Once we have done these steps, a delegated Officer will assess your application against the Right to Information Act 2009 and let you know the outcome of that process in writing.
5) You will be notified of the outcome of your request as soon as practicable, but in no more than 20 working days of the application being accepted.
6) If your request is complex or you are seeking a large amount of information, we may ask you to give us more time.
7) If there is a need to consult with a third party about their business affairs or about their personal information, an extension of 20 working days is automatically given. We will let you know if this happens.
8) If the application or part of the application is refused, the reasons for the refusal to provide the information will be provided to you as part of the decision, together with details on your the right to seek a review of the decision. If you decide to request a review, this is done by writing to:
Launceston City Council
PO Box 396
LAUNCESTON TAS 7250
If the officer assessing your request does not get back to you in the timeframe allowed, then it is deemed that we have refused your application. If you choose, you can then make an application for review directly to the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman's Right to Information Manual and Guidelines
The Manual and Guidelines will provide you with a little more detail on making requests under the Act and how they are processed by the agency to which the request is sent.
These are available on the Office of the Ombudsman's website.
Related Acts and Regulations
You can view, download and print the following Acts and Regulations made available by the Tasmanian Legislation Online website.