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Appendix 5 : Freedom of Information

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Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) requires Commonwealth Government agencies to make available information about their organisation, functions and operations, and about rules and practices used in making decisions that affect members of the public.

Information about the Department, its functions and publications is available on the website or by contacting the Communications and Public Affairs Unit:

Director
Communications and Public Affairs
Department of Transport and Regional Services
GPO Box 594
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6274 7522
Fax: (02) 6274 7706
Email: publicaffairs@DOTARS.gov.au

HOW TO GET INFORMATION

Under section 15 of the FOI Act, any person is entitled to apply for access to documents that fall within its scope.

If you need further information or wish to lodge a formal request for information under the FOI Act, please contact the FOI Coordinator:

Freedom of Information Coordinator
Department of Transport and Regional Services
GPO Box 594
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6274 7844
Fax: (02) 6274 6775
Email: foi@DOTARS.gov.au

A request under the FOI Act must be in writing, accompanied by a $30 application fee, and stating an address in Australia to which notices under the FOI Act can be sent. In certain instances the fee is not required or can be remitted. For a quick response, give as much information as possible about the document/s you are seeking. It is advisable also to include a telephone number in case clarification of your request is necessary.

FOI procedures

The Secretary of the Department has the power to grant or refuse access under the FOI Act to any document held by the Department, and has authorised divisional Senior Executive Service officers to grant or refuse access to documents held by their divisions. In general, copies of documents are provided, but the Department can provide a reading area for the inspection of original documents.

For the purposes of the FOI Act, the records of the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation, the Bureau of Transport Economics and the administrations of Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island are records of the Department.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION INQUIRIES 1998-99

During 1998-99, the Department received 74 requests for access to documents under section 15 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982. Most were requests for documents relating to aircraft accident investigations, the remainder including issues relating to vehicle recalls, airports, and Christmas Island administration.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION STATISTICS 1998-99

Requests received

On hand at 1 July 1998
Received 1 July 1998-30 June 1999

Number

9
74

Action on requests

Access in full
Access in part
Access refused or no documents located
Transferred in whole
Withdrawn
Current as at 30 June 1999

7
46
4
1
8
17

Response time

0-30 days
31-60 days
61-90 days
91+ days

21
23
8
5

Internal review

On hand at 1 July 1998
Applications received 1 July 1998-30 June 1999
Decision affirmed
Greater access given
Full access given
Withdrawn
Transferred
Current as at 30 June 1999

1
3
2
1
1
0
0
0

Review by Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Applications
Decision completed
Withdrawn
Transferred
Current as at 30 June 1999

1
0
0
0
1

Fees and charges ($)

Total application fees collected
Total charges notified
Total charges collected

1 900
7 448
4 473

DEPARTMENTAL MANUALS AND CATEGORIES OF DOCUMENTS

In accordance with section 9 of the FOI Act, a list has been compiled of unpublished manuals and other documents used by departmental officers as a guide to procedures and practices to be followed when making decisions or recommendations that affect the public. The list as at 30 June 1999 is available on request from the FOI Coordinator or any office of the Australian Archives.

The following categories of documents are common throughout the Department:

  • briefing papers and submissions prepared for the Ministers, Parliamentary Secretary and senior departmental officers;
  • Cabinet documents, including draft Cabinet submissions and documents submitted to Cabinet;
  • documents prepared for the Executive Council;
  • documents relating to the development of and explanatory memoranda to Acts, Ordinances and Regulations;
  • internal administration documents relating to staff management and the organisation and operation of the Department. These documents include personnel records, organisational and staffing records, financial and resource management records and internal operating procedures, instructions, circulars and indexes;
  • ministerial responses to parliamentary questions, interdepartmental and general correspondence and papers;
  • policy documents, including the development and implementation of Government and departmental policy, recommendations and decisions;
  • speeches and other statements made by Ministers, the Parliamentary Secretary and departmental officers;
  • working files and papers covering functions and issues handled by the Department, including program, fund and grant administration;
  • Iegal documents, including legislation, contracts, leases and court documents;
  • maps, charts, photographs, technical drawings and specifications and technical manuals;
  • registers of documents, approvals, permits and licences;
  • service delivery arrangements;
  • statistics and databases;
  • documents prepared by international agencies such as the UN, IMO, IATA, OECD, ICAO and APEC;
  • reports by other government agencies and business enterprises; and
  • Bilateral Agreements, International Treaties, Memoranda of Understanding and International Conventions.

Any additional documents used by particular areas are listed under each Output Class.

PORTFOLIO ORGANISATION, FUNCTIONS, POWERS AND ARRANGEMENTS FOR OUTSIDE PARTICIPATION

Please refer to the Organisation Chart [PDFPDF: 231 KB] and Portfolio Output Structure in the Corporate Overview.

The functions of the Department are described in the Output Class Performance Reports section.

The Department welcomes views and comments from members of the public and bodies outside the Commonwealth on its policy formulation and administration of portfolio legislation. Public consultation is widely practised at varying levels, across many fields of policy and output delivery. Formal arrangements for outside participation include cross-portfolio bodies and bodies specific to output classes.

OUTPUT CLASS 1 AVIATION

Powers

Certain officers exercise delegated decision-making powers, and advise the Minister on the exercise of powers, under the following Acts and regulations:

Air Accidents (Commonwealth Government Liability) Act 1963
Air Navigation Act 1920
Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952
Air Services Act 1995
Aviation Fuel Revenues (Special Appropriation) Act 1988
Civil Aviation Act 1988
Civil Aviation (Carriers Liability) Act 1959
Civil Aviation (Damage by Aircraft) Act 1958
Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment Act 1995
International Air Services Commission Act 1992
Air Navigation Regulations
Air Navigation (Aerodrome Flight Corridors) Regulations
Air Navigation (Charges) Regulations
Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations
Civil Aviation (Carriers Liability) Regulations
International Air Services Commission Regulations 1995.

Arrangements for outside participation

The Year 2000 Aviation Committee comprises representatives of the major airports and airlines, bodies representing regional airports and airlines, the Royal Australian Air Force, and relevant government agencies. Its purpose is to monitor and report to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services on Year 2000 compliance within the aviation sector.

The National Advisory Facilitation Committee comprises representatives of the airlines, Airservices Australia, international airports and border agencies (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine). It deals with arrangements for the smooth facilitation of passengers, cargo and freight across Australian borders.

The Aviation Working Group comprises representatives of Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. The Group provides advice to the Standing Committee on Transport on intrastate, interstate and international aviation issues, infrastructure issues, and aviation safety and standards. It also assesses and provides advice on the inter-government policy implications of actions by such national aviation organisations as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Bureau of Air Safety Investigation.

OUTPUT CLASS 2 AIRPORTS

Powers

Certain officers exercise delegated decision-making powers, and advise the Minister on the exercise of powers, under the following Acts and regulations:

Aircraft Noise Levy Act 1995
Aircraft Noise Levy Collection Act 1995
Air Navigation Act 1920
Airports Act 1996
Federal Airports Corporation Act 1986
Sydney Airport Curfew Act 1995
Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997
Air Services Act 1995
Air Navigation (Fuel Spillage) Regulations
Air Navigation Regulations
Air Navigation (Aerodrome Curfew) Regulations
Air Navigation (Aerodrome Flight Corridors) Regulations
Air Navigation (Aircraft Engine Emissions) Regulations
Air Navigation (Aircraft Noise) Regulations
Airports Regulations
Airports (Control of On-Airport Activities) Regulations
Airports (Building Control) Regulations
Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations
Airports (Ownership- Interests in Shares) Regulations
Sydney Airport Curfew Regulations.

Additional category of documents

  • Environmental Impact Statements.

Arrangements for outside participation

The Sydney Airport Community Forum comprises Commonwealth, State, local government and community and industry representatives from around Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport. It provides advice to the Minister on noise and related environmental issues associated with the Airport.

OUTPUT CLASS 3 AIR SAFETY INVESTIGATION

Powers

Certain officers of the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (the Bureau) exercise statutory powers delegated by the Director of Air Safety Investigation to investigate air safety occurrences and safety deficiencies under Part 2A of the Air Navigation Act 1920.

Arrangements for outside participation

The Bureau seeks comment on the content and findings of significant accident or incident reports from organisations or individuals who were directly involved in those occurrences or in the immediate aftermath.

OUTPUT CLASS 5 ROAD, RAIL AND INFRASTRUCTURE POLICY AND PROGRAMS

Powers

Certain officers exercise delegated decision-making powers, and advise the Minister on the exercise of powers, under the following Acts:

Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988
Australian National Railways Commission Act 1983
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997-;Division 396
National Rail Corporation Agreement Act 1992
Railways Agreement (SA) Act 1975
Railways Agreement (Tasmania) Act 1975
Seat of Government Railway Act 1978.

Additional categories of documents

  • Standards Australia guidelines for road design, signage and technical benchmarks
  • National Highway Notes on Administration
  • National Highway Service Centres policy
  • Communiques of the Australian Transport Council.

Arrangements for outside participation

Austroads Incorporated comprises Commonwealth and State road management agencies, local government and Transit New Zealand. It aims to promote national uniformity, safety and harmonisation, to avoid unnecessary duplication, and to support the identification and application of world best-practice in the management of Australia's roads.

The Rail Group comprises senior officials of Commonwealth, State and Territory transport agencies. It advises the Standing Committee on Transport on issues associated with facilitating a more competitive and commercially viable rail transport industry, including national rail safety regulatory arrangements, operational uniformity and transport environment issues.

OUTPUT CLASS 6 ROAD SAFETY

Powers

Certain officers exercise delegated decision-making powers, and advise the Minister on the exercise of powers, under the following Acts:

Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989
Explosives Act 1961
Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988
Interstate Road Transport Act 1985.

Additional categories of documents

  • Records of Australian Design Rules, Conformity of Production Manual, Test Facility Inspection Manual, and Single Uniform Test Inspection Manual
  • Records of compliance plate and vehicle import approvals
  • Vehicle safety recalls monitored by the Federal Office of Road Safety.

Arrangements for outside participation

The National Road Safety Strategy Panel comprises senior road safety officials from the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, as well as representatives of major local government associations, health and enforcement agencies, road and motor vehicle industry bodies, motorist associations and user and community groups.

It is responsible for implementing and reviewing the National Road Safety Strategy and Action Plans, and developing and administering projects to enhance road safety and the transfer of best practice under the Austroads Road Safety Program.

The Technical Liaison Group includes approximately 30 representatives of State and Territory Governments, manufacturers, industry associations, road-user groups, and the New Zealand Land Transport Safety Authority.

It provides a key part of the broad-based consultative arrangements for developing and amending vehicle design rules.

The Australian Motor Vehicle Certification Board comprises representatives of Commonwealth, State and Territory motor vehicle safety and regulatory areas, and the National Road Transport Commission. It provides a national forum to resolve aspects of vehicle certification and administration for new vehicles.

The Advisory Committee on the Transport of Dangerous Goods includes representatives of each State and Territory regulatory authority, with representatives of the road and rail transport industries, major dangerous goods manufacturers, air and sea authorities, emergency responders, employee representatives and other relevant Commonwealth agencies. Its primary role is preparing codes and associated guidelines for the safe movement of dangerous goods and explosives.

The Motor Vehicle Environment Committee is an 8-member committee with equal representation of Commonwealth and State transport and environment agencies at chief executive level. Its purpose is to govern the development of vehicle emission and noise standards, and other vehicle-environment issues.

It is supported by the Transport Emissions Liaison Group, a consultative body with representation from all Commonwealth and State transport and environment agencies, key industry groups, motoring associations and environment groups.

The Vehicle Standards Review Advisory Committee includes representatives of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the Australian Automobile Association, the Australian Trucking Association, the Australian Bus and Coach Association, the Federal Office of Road Safety, New Zealand Land Transport Safety Authority, the National Road Transport Commission and State and Territory transport departments.

Its role is to determine the relevance of current vehicle safety standards and seek ways to reduce the regulatory burden on trade between Australia and New Zealand.

The Committee to Advise on Recall and Safety includes representatives of government, industry and road-user (consumer) groups. It examines allegedly unsafe vehicle parts, accessories and unsafe practices, including appropriate means of overcoming demonstrated safety problems.

The Motorcycle Safety Consultative Committee comprises officials of the Federal Office of Road Safety and representatives of the motorcycle rider community, the motorcycle industry and other interest groups. It considers a range of issues in national motorcycle safety.

OUTPUT CLASS 7 TRANSPORT AND TRADE DEVELOPMENT

Powers

No statutory powers were exercised under this output class.

Arrangements for outside participation

The Australian Transport Council (ATC) comprises Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand ministers with responsibility for transport, roads, and marine and ports matters. The Papua New Guinea Minister for Transport and Works and the Australian Local Government Association have formal observer status on the Council.

It is a ministerial forum for Commonwealth, State and Territory consultation and advice to Government on the coordination and integration of all transport policy issues at national level.

The Standing Committee on Transport (SCOT) comprises representatives of each ATC Minister, generally at head of department or agency level. The Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Local Government Association is an observer.

The Committee is responsible for formulating and managing the strategic agenda, as determined by ATC, on multi-modal, inter-modal and modal policy issues, and operational and technical issues of national importance. SCOT also coordinates ATC business.

The National Transport Council is a forum, comprising senior industry representatives, where Australia's transport users and operators share their expertise with, and provide advice to, the federal and State Governments.

The Transport Trade Industry Consultative Group is a consultative mechanism established by the Department through which the views of industry and government (both Commonwealth and State) are sought on matters relating to Australia's approach to transport trade issues.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Transportation Working Group: Australian delegations comprise departmental officers and representatives of regulatory agencies and industry. Its goal is to promote an efficient and integrated region-wide transport system to enhance regional growth and economic interrelationships for the common good of APEC economies.

Australia-Indonesia Development Area Transport Working Group comprises representatives of government and industry from both countries. Its purpose is to improve private-sector trade and investment between Australia and the eastern provinces of Indonesia.

'Supermarket to Asia' Council, Transport and Logistics Working Group comprises industry leaders from the transport and agri-food exporter industries, and aims to improve the efficiency of freight movements around and out of Australia.

The Tradegate ECA Logistics Management Working Group comprises representatives of the Department, Tradegate ECA Australia Limited, industry, Australian Customs Service, and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. Its purpose is to coordinate and accelerate the application of electronic commerce in transport and related trading sectors.

Intelligent Transport Systems Australia is a joint association of industry, government and academic representatives formed to promote the orderly introduction of Intelligent Transport Systems into Australia.

OUTPUT CLASS 8 RESEARCH

Powers

No statutory powers were exercised under this output class.

Arrangements for outside participation

There are no formal arrangements.

OUTPUT CLASS 9 REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, TERRITORIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Powers

Certain officers exercise delegated decision-making powers, and advise the Minister on the exercise of powers, under the following Acts and regulations:

ACT Self-Government (Consequential Provisions) Act 1988
Ashmore and Cartier Islands Acceptance Act 1933
Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988
Australian Capital Territory Stamp Duty Act 1969
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Cheques) Act 1969
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Hire Purchase Business) Act 1969
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Insurance Business) Act 1969
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Life Insurance Business) Act 1981
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Purchases of Marketable Securities) Act 1969
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Sales of Marketable Securities) Act 1969
Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 and regulations
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Transfers of Marketable Securities) Act 1986
Australian Capital Territory Tax (Vehicle Registration) Act 1981
Australian Capital Territory Taxation (Administration) Act 1969
Canberra Water Supply (Googong Dam) Act 1974
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955
Christmas Island Act 1958
Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915
Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995
Norfolk Island Act 1979
Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 and regulations.

Additional categories of documents

  • Births, deaths and marriages records
  • Motor vehicle registry records.

Arrangements for outside participation

Community consultative processes are in place through the Indian Ocean Territories (lOTs) shire councils to allow for community input into law reform in the lOTs.

The Administrations in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island frequently liaise informally with various community groups, business groups and shire councils on a wide range of community and administrative matters.

The Jervis Bay Territory Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee, comprising all major interests inside and outside the Territory involved in the subject matter, meets quarterly to advance Aboriginal justice issues. Frequent meetings are also held between Commonwealth officials and the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council on issues of mutual interest.

The Canberra Ministerial Forum provides a mechanism for dialogue between the Commonwealth, the ACT Government and businesses in the ACT region, on the ACT economy.

The Local Government Ministers' Conference has representation from all State and Territories, the Commonwealth, the Australian Local Government Association and New Zealand. It is a forum for the exchange of ideas and information and for consultation on common interests and goals.

National Awards for Innovation in Local Government recognise local government bodies and others in the industry that implement innovative and resourceful solutions to issues facing local government. Each award category in 1998-99 was judged by a panel of representatives of the Institute of Municipal Management, Australian Local Government Association, category sponsors, and the National Office of Local Government.

The Development Assessment Forum is a partnership among all spheres of government and the building and development industry. Its purpose is to develop a more harmonised planning and development assessment regime throughout Australia.

The Local Government Development Programme provided grants to councils, regional organisations of councils, local government associations and State and Northern Territory local government departments. It terminated on 30 June 1999. Applications for grants were referred to Joint Assessment Committees comprising State and Northern Territory local government departments, and National and State and Northern Territory local government associations. The Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government when approving applications took into account advice provided by the Joint Assessment Committees.

The Rural Transaction Centres Programme refers applications for assistance to the relevant State Government department before being assessed by an independent Advisory Panel. The Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government when approving applications takes into account the advice provided by the Panel.

The Rural Communities Program refers applications to the relevant State Government department before they are assessed by an independent Advisory Panel. The Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government when approving applications takes into account advice provided by the Panel.

The Rural Domestic Violence Program has an independent Advisory Committee appointed by the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, to advise on funding allocation.

OUTPUT CLASS 10 MARITIME

Powers

Certain officers exercise delegated decision-making powers and advise the

Minister on the exercise of powers under the following Acts:

Navigation Act 1912
Trade Practices Act 1974 -; Part X
Stevedoring Levy (Collection) Act 1998
Ships Capital Grants Act 1987.

Additional category of documents

  • Shipping Conference documents.

Arrangements for outside participation

The Marine and Ports Group comprises representatives of federal, State and local governments, and the maritime industry. It provides advice to the Standing Committee on Transport and through the Committee to the Australian Transport Council, on marine transport issues of national importance, and develops draft policy where a consistent and coordinated response across jurisdictions is required.

OTHER: CORPORATE SUPPORT AND ADVICE

Powers

Certain officers exercise delegated decision-making powers and advise the Minister on the exercise of powers under the following Acts, regulations and administrative directions:

Public Service Act 1922 and associated regulations
Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and regulations
Archives Act 1983
Freedom of Information Act 1982
Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976
Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973
Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1991
Superannuation Act 1976
Superannuation Act 1990.

Arrangements for outside participation

There are no formal arrangements for outside participation.