Australia: Queensland Government seeks more views on the Right to Information Act and the Information Privacy Act

Last Updated: 28 December 2016
Article by Eleanor Dickens

Most Read Contributor in Australia, November 2017

It is essential that agencies participate in the review by identifying and making submissions.

On 13 December 2016 the Queensland Government announced that it would undertake further public consultation on the review of the Right to Information Act 2009 (the RTI Act) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (the IP Act) that commenced in August 2013 and released a discussion paper inviting further submissions.

The Acts were a substantial and significant reform in the way that Queensland public sector information could be accessed, used, disclosed and managed. This review is therefore an opportunity to ensure that the scope, application and operation of these frameworks remain consistent with the Government's policy objectives, and that these Acts establish a modern, effective and efficient information management framework underpinned by transparency and accountability policy drivers.

The outcomes may be useful for any other jurisdictions that may then consider potential changes and amendments to their FOI and information privacy arrangements. This is particularly relevant as Queensland was the first Australian jurisdiction to substantially reform and amend its FOI legislative model. Various aspects of these reforms were then adopted in other jurisdictions including the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Tasmania.

The 2013 review revisited in 2016

The review of the RTI and IP Acts is mandated by the Acts with the review initially commencing in August 2013 under the previous Government. Sixty-seven submissions were received in response to the 2013 review; they will be further considered, and have already informed several issues and matters raised in the 2016 Discussion Paper.

The 2016 consultation process is to provide an opportunity to further consider specific issues raised in the 2013 review on which a range of varied responses were received as well as to raise additional issues and to ensure that the review process considers recent developments including changes in technology.

Key issues from the 2013 review of the RTI and IP Acts

Many of the key issues identified in the 2013 review have again been raised in the 2016 consultation process, including:

  • Are the objects of the RTI and IP Acts being met?
  • How should the RTI Act and IP Act apply to government owned corporations?
  • Should the RTI Act and Chapter 3 of the IP Act apply to contracted service providers where they are performing functions on behalf of Government?
  • Should the threshold for third party consultations be amended so that the trigger is that the disclosure in question will be of a "substantial concern" to the relevant third party?
  • Are the categories of exempt information satisfactory and appropriate?
  • Should the public interest test be simplified and/or amended and, if so, how?

Additional issues identified in the 2016 consultation process

The additional issues that have now been raised for further consultation include:

  • Are there benefits in the Departmental Disclosure Log requirements which require Departments to include information regarding the identity of the applicant and whether they have sought information on behalf of another entity or person?
  • Should the Departmental Disclosure Log requirements be extended to other agencies and Ministers?
  • Should the way the RTI Act and Chapter 3 of the IP Act applies to statutory bodies with commercial interests be changed? This issue has only generally be considered in the context of Government Owned Corporations (established under the Government Owned Corporations Act 1993 Qld (GOC Act)) and other State owned corporate vehicles incorporated under the Corporations Act with commercial functions.
  • Is there justification for treating some of the government owned corporations differently?

Varied and different responses from the 2013 review

The 2016 review also identifies particular issues where there was significant variance across the submissions received under the 2013 review.

The identification of these issues is significant in that should there be any amendment to the Acts in response to these issues, these amendments are likely to be contentious.

The treatment of government owned corporations and contracted service providers under the RTI Act

The RTI and IP Acts currently apply inconsistently to government owned corporations (GOCs). Those established under the GOC Act are either partially or fully subject to the RTI Act and Chapter 3 of the IP Act and those that are not are fully exempt.

The 2013 review submissions were mixed between support for the extension of the Acts to GOCs and suggesting that it would be an additional burden on the operations of GOCs to subject them to the full requirements of the RTI Act and could affect their ability to generate commercial returns.

There is currently no right to access documents held by contracted service providers under the RTI Act. The 2013 review submissions were concerned with potential administrative burden and cost in this respect. The 2016 discussion paper identifies the approach set out in section 6C of the Privacy Act as an alternative means of accessing the documents of contacted service providers. Under this approach, applications for documents would be made to agencies with an agency's contracted services provider/s required to provide relevant information if so required by the agency.

Whether the categories of exempt information should be increased or decreased

The submissions to the 2013 review indicated strong support to simplify the public interest balancing test. However, there was no preferred solution identified for how the test could be simplified.

The 2016 Discussion Paper identifies several ways of simplifying the test including:

  • consolidating the factors in parts 3 and 4 of Schedule 4 of the RTI Act into a single list of factors favouring non-disclosure to be compared against the factors favouring disclosure; and
  • amending individual factors to ensure consistency in language used to prescribe threshold tests contained across the public interest factors and to ensure factors contain only threshold requirement to be satisfied as opposed to two separate threshold requirements as is currently the case for some of the factors favouring non-disclosure.

Making a submission

Given the status of the RTI and IP Acts as central elements of Queensland's public sector information management regime as well as key accountability and transparency mechanisms, any potential amendment to these Acts requires significant consideration and consultation.

In these circumstances and considering that this review represents the first real opportunity to review and revisit these Acts, it is essential that agencies participate in the review by identifying and making submissions in respect of issues that are encountered in the operation and administration of these Acts.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 3 February 2017.

Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin. Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and territories.

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

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

Authors
 
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”

Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
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
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration
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

    Mondaq.com (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 www.mondaq.com

    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 Mondaq.com’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.

    Disclaimer

    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.

    Registration

    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 unsubscribe@mondaq.com 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.

    Cookies

    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.

    Links

    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.

    Mail-A-Friend

    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.

    Emails

    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 .

    Security

    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 webmaster@mondaq.com.

    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 EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

    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 enquiries@mondaq.com.

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com 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