Australia: Government Bulletin - 28 January 2015

The New South Wales Information Commissioner Elizabeth Tydd has tabled a report in Parliament on the operation of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) for 2013-2014. The GIPA Act recognises that the right of access to information is not limited to the release of information upon formal application, accordingly it examines all four information release pathways – mandatory proactive release, authorised proactive release, informal release and access applications – in relation to the GIPA Act's objective of early and proactive release of information.

The key findings include:

  • high levels of compliance with mandatory proactive release in the Council sector (89%) and the Government sector (84%);
  • consistent information release rates compared to 2010-2013 (74%), constant refusal rates (8%) and an increase in decisions varied by internal review to 72%;
  • agency internal reviews (access applications) continue to be the preferred channel of review (75%);
  • lower levels of compliance with authorised proactive release across all sectors (64%);
  • levels of agency timeliness have decreased in dealing with access applications (80%); and
  • the percentage of deemed refusals of invalid applications has reverted to 2011-2012 level (15%).

Two cases considering the GIPA Act decided in January 2015 are summarised below.

Singh v Legal Aid Commission (No 2) [2015] NSWCATAD 5

Mr Singh made three separate requests for information from Legal Aid NSW under the GIPA Act, which were denied by Legal Aid NSW for several reasons. The Tribunal agreed with the respondent's decision to refuse access to documents relating to their decision to engage a private law firm to handle Mr Singh's employment matters, including his return to work, on the basis that the application would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of the agency's resources. On this point, it held that Legal Aid NSW's estimate of the time taken to locate the documents was reasonable. Further, in deciding whether to deal with the application, it held that the agency was entitled to take into account other related requests that the applicant had made (s 60(3) of the GIPA Act).

In relation to Mr Singh's request for documents relating to his workers compensation claim and his personal grievance complaint, the respondent provided access to some information, provided access to a redacted version of some material but declined to provide access to other material on the basis of overriding public interest against its disclosure. The Tribunal generally agreed with the respondent's refusal to provide access to information on the basis that some items were privileged, contained personal information, may prejudice legitimate business, commercial, professional or financial interests and may prejudice the supply of confidential information. However, on the issue of the competitive commercial value of information, the Tribunal noted that documents outlining the selection criteria for engaging external legal services providers would not place the respondent at a competitive disadvantage. Therefore, there was no overriding public interest against the disclosure of such information.

Abdelaziz v StateCover Mutual Ltd [2015] NSWCATAD 1

Mr Abdelaziz applied to StateCover Mutual Ltd for access to certain information held by it in relation to a workers' compensation claim. When the respondent did not make a decision on the application within the prescribed time, the applicant lodged an application with the Tribunal on the basis of deemed refusal within the meaning of s 63 of the GIPA Act. A preliminary issue arose for determination as to whether the respondent was an "agency" for the purposes of the GIPA Act.

A person seeking access to information has a legally enforceable right to be provided with it under the GIPA Act only if the information is "government information." That phrase is defined by s 4 as "information contained in a record held by an agency." An agency is defined as being a public authority (s 4(1)(c)). Under Schedule 4 Cl 2(3), an incorporated company or Association is excluded from the definition of "public authority." It was held that as the respondent was an insurer approved and regulated by APRA and was an unlisted public company, it could not be a public authority or agency within the meaning of the GIPA Act. Accordingly it was held that the information sought by the applicant was not "government information" and the statutory obligation to grant access did not apply to the respondent.

Government Bulletin Reader Survey

We'd love to know what you think about the fortnightly Government Bulletin. Please click here to take part in our very quick (two minute) survey. Your feedback is much appreciated and will help us bring you the news and analysis that you are most interested in.

Government Lawyers half day conference

Holding Redlich and ACLA invite you to attend an intensive half day conference for public sector lawyers. Please click here for more information and to register for the event.

To start a conversation about Government Bulletin or issues of interest to NSW government lawyers, join the LinkedIn group NSW Government Lawyers by clicking on this link. Membership is open to lawyers employed in the public sector.

In the media

Removing barriers to justice in NSW
The NSW Government has released a discussion paper debating potential whether the Limitation Act 1969 should be amended, and the public are invited to have a say on plans to remove or reduce the legal time limit in which survivors of child sexual abuse can sue for damages (23 January 2015) Removing barriers to justice

FWA verdict: Public servants cannot demand discretionary leave
Australian Public Service bosses have the legal right to refuse demands from staff for paid "discretionary" time off work, the industrial tribunal has ruled. The Fair Work Commission made the ruling in the case of a federal public servant's legal bid to force his bosses to give him months of "discretionary" leave (23 January 2015) More...

Government siege inquiry may undermine coronial inquest, former coroners say
A joint government inquiry into the Sydney siege may contradict the findings of an independent coronial inquest, confusing the public about the truth behind the tragedy, former NSW coroner John Abernethy says (23 January 2015) More...

ICAC: Margaret Cunneen High Court battle puts dozens of ICAC findings in doubt
The High Court battle between the NSW corruption watchdog and Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen has implications for at least three future inquiries and dozens of past corruption findings, the court has been told (23 January 2015) More...

New watchdog for the NSW legal profession
Attorney General Brad Hazzard today announced the appointment of award winning solicitor John McKenzie as the new Legal Services Commissioner for NSW. Mr McKenzie will begin a four year term as Legal Services Commissioner on 4 March 2015 (22 January 2015) New watchdog for the NSW legal profession [PDF, 86kb]

ICAC says proposed data retention laws will help stop corruption, but expert worried by lack of detail
Proposed new data retention laws could help crack down on corruption as well as crime, according to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in New South Wales (22 January 2015) More...

Judge dismisses bid by Teys Australia to stop Wagga Wagga developments
The abattoir operator argued in the Land and Environment Court that the Wagga Wagga City Council had not properly considered the development applications. In her judgment, Justice Pain says Teys was not able to establish enough evidence to warrant a judicial review (20 January 2015) More...

"D" Day for serial drink drivers: mandatory alcohol interlocks from 1 Feb - NSW
The NSW Government has made another critical step towards reducing drink driving with mandatory alcohol interlocks coming into effect from 1 February. The introduction of alcohol interlocks was a clear indication the NSW Government was committed to protecting the lives of motorists by cracking down on serial drink driving offenders (18 January 2015) More...

Lindt Café siege inquest opening - NSW
The inquest into the deaths of Katrina Dawson, Tori Johnson and Man Monis at Martin Place will open on 29 January. State Coroner Michael Barnes will preside over the inquest. Counsel assisting the State Coroner, Jeremy Gormly SC, will outline a provisional list of issues the investigation and inquest will look at and provide some details of the results of the inquiries conducted to date (09 January 2015) Media Statement: Lindt Café siege inquest opening

Govts urged to give intellectually disabled people more say in decision-making in 2015
The federal and state governments are being urged to give people with intellectual disabilities more say in the design of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Advocates for the disabled say their call is supported by recent recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission (16 January 2015) More...

In practice and courts

Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference: APSACC 2015
The fifth Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference (APSACC) will be held 17 to 19 November 2015 at the Brisbane Convention and Entertainment Centre, South Bank. More...

NSW ICAC: Public inquiry into allegations concerning former Ausgrid engineer starts Monday
The ICAC's public inquiry being held as part of its Operation Jarah investigation into allegations concerning former Ausgrid engineer Phillip Cresnar will commence next Monday, 19 January 2015 Public inquiry into allegations concerning former Ausgrid engineer starts Monday

NSW ICAC:Operation Jarah witness list - week commencing Monday 26 January 2015
Operation Jarah public inquiry witness list for the week commencing 26 January 2015.. Please note that this list is subject to change. Operation Jarah witness list - week commencing Monday 26 January 2015

High Court New Practice Direction - Applications for Leave, Special Leave and Removal
The High Court has made available Practice Direction No 1 of 2015 - Authorities (2 January 2015)

Dispute resolution
Australasia's two largest membership organisations for ADR practitioners, LEADR and the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia (IAMA) made the historic decision to become a single entity. The members of both organisations voted overwhelmingly to proceed to a single, integrated body on 1 January 2015. See details here.

Integrity in government: issues and developments in New South Wales, 2011-2015 - NSW Parliamentary Research Service
The main concern of this paper is to review the reforms introduced over the life of the 55th NSW Parliament, from 2011 to 2015, policy and legislative in nature, intended to address concerns about integrity in government (20 January 2015) More...

Published – articles, papers, reports

Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009: 2013 – 2014 report
While the 2013 – 2014 Report provides some positive results, Ms Tydd acknowledged that there is still work to be done to promote access to information and achieve the objects of the Act (15 January 2015) Download a copy of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009: 2013 – 2014 report


BFU v Children's Guardian [2015] NSWCATAD 6
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW – child protection –working with children check clearance – application for an enabling order – applicant a disqualified person by reason of his convictions, in 2006, of one count of possessing child pornography and one count of aggravated indecent assault of a person under the age of 16 years – whether applicant has discharged his onus to rebut the statutory presumption that he poses a risk to the safety of children More...

Singh v Legal Aid Commission (No 2) [2015] NSWCATAD 5
Government information - public interest considerations against disclosure - conclusive presumption - legal professional privilege - false or unsubstantiated allegations about a person that are defamatory - personal information - operation of agencies – confidential information – whether prejudicing any person's legitimate business, commercial, professional or financial interests – whether prejudicing the supply to an agency of confidential information – whether prejudicing the effective exercise of that agency's functions.
Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act 1997; Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013; Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 More...

Abdelaziz v StateCover Mutual Ltd [2015] NSWCATAD 1
Application dismissed for want of jurisdiction. GOVERNMENT INFORMATION (PUBLIC ACCESS) -- jurisdiction – what is an "agency" – StateCover Mutual Ltd not an agency.
Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997; Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013; Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009; Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2009 More...

Teys Australia Southern Pty Limited v Burns [2015] NSWLEC 1
JUDICIAL REVIEW - meaning of proposed instrument in context of s 79C(1)(a)(ii) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 – whether proposed instrument considered in council assessment of subdivision development application – whether failure to properly consider public interest issues including planning history of area in council assessment of subdivision development application Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 Pt 3 Div 4, s 79C, s 80, s 117, Pt 3A (repealed); Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000; Wagga Wagga Local Environmental Plan 2010 More...

Delmege & Anor v Chief Commissioner of State Revenue [2014] NSWSC 1865
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - savings and transitional provisions - State Revenue Legislation Further Amendment Act 2003 (NSW) Schedule 4 cl 13 - whether transitional provisions had effect of continuing to apply provisions of the Land Tax Management Act 1956 (NSW) as in force immediately before 31 December 2003 to determine availability of s 10T concession More...

Attorney General for the State of New South Wales v XY [2014] NSWCA 466
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION - resolving inconsistency between provisions in a single statute - provisions introduced contemporaneously - reading statute as a whole - giving each provision work to do - Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 (NSW), s 43, s 47(3) More...


New Proclamation - Bail Amendment Act NSW
The Bail Amendment Act 2014 No. 52 (NSW) has been proclaimed by Statutory Rule 2015 No. 12 (NSW) to commence on 28 January 2015.

Consequential Commencement - Bail Regulation NSW
The Bail Amendment (Bail Eligibility Information) Regulation 2014 No. 814 (NSW), which amends the Bail Regulation 2014 No. 25 (NSW), will commence on 28 January 2014, as a consequence of the commencement of Schedule 1(6) of the Bail Amendment Act 2014 No. 52 (NSW).

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Christine Jones
Kim Nguyen
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions