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Law Reform · Access to Justice

Have your say: Right to Information Act review

30 January, 2017

The RTI Act is essential to ensuring accountable, transparent governance. Have your say by 3 February 2017. 

The Queensland Government is undertaking a review of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) and Chapter 3 of the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act).

  • A consultation paper has been prepared to guide the review and submissions, including various questions the government is seeking responses to, available here;
  • General information on how to make a submission can be found here;
  • Download EDO Qld's template submission here. Our template includes suggested points to note. however, remember to adjust it to suit your experience with examples!

If you have ever been interested in understanding better how government decision makers made a decision that affected a matter of community interest, or wanted to access data which demonstrates the impacts of a development on your health or the environment but which is not on a register, you have probably made a RTI request. Without easy access to information behind government processes and decision making, there is an increased risk of corruption growing in governance, and loss of the benefit that open, accountable governance through encouraging an informed public can provide to assisting democracy and good decision-making. As they say: sunlight is the best disinfectant!

EDO Qld frequently assists clients in making RTI Act requests to access important information to help them protect their community and environment from harmful actions and inappropriate development, to prevent corruption and to ensure transparent and accountable governance. Regrettably, frequently these requests are not successful, excessively delayed and not decided with sufficient weight given to the public interest of transparent, open governance, as promoted in the Preamble to the RTI Act.

EDO Qld’s key suggested points to improve the RTI Act are below, with more detailed template guidance provided HERE:

  • The ‘push model’, favouring proactive disclosure of information, is not currently being adequately implemented – more action must be taken across government to proactively provide the public with information to avoid the need for RTI applications
  • All essential documents, such as copies of environmental licences and monitoring data, need to be made available to the public by legislation on a public register to avoid need for RTI applications
  • Too much weight is put in favour of non-disclosure, more weight should be provided to the public interest of disclosing information, as committed to in the Preamble to the Act:
  • Improve the balance of weight given in favour of disclosure in the public interest, to ensure this is given sufficient weight in decision making
  • Narrow the number of considerations for when non-disclosure should be favoured
  • The ability to refuse documents due to potential implications to commercial interests and deliberative processes must be better defined and restrained to ensure they are not misapplied or abused, for example confidence of commercial interests should be limited to ‘trade secrets’, particularly for major projects effecting the environment and community
  • Given the importance of access to information to ensuring open, accountable governance, free of corruption, more consultation should be undertaken as part of this review, including public hearings
  • To decrease the processing time of applications, a higher threshold should be applied to consultation with third parties and third parties should not have ability to pause the time for considering an application.

Get your submissions in by Friday 3 February!

For further information on the review and a full list of the Terms of Reference download the consultation paper here.

Information on how to make a submission to the review can be found here.

Email your submissions toFeedbackRTIandprivacy@justice.qld.gov.au

Or post them to:

RTI and Privacy Review
Department of Justice and Attorney-General
GPO Box 149
Brisbane QLD 4001

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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