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Appendix F-Report under the FOI Act

Under section 15 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), any person is entitled to apply for access to Australian Government documents created after 1970. The Department holds documents relating to its roles of:

  • carrying out research and providing advice on transport, transport security and regional issues;
  • conducting investigations into transport safety;
  • administering regulations and standards for all modes of transport; and
  • delivering a range of programmes on behalf of the Australian government, including services to territories and local governments.

This appendix explains how to request access to documents held by Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) under the FOI Act, what records the Department holds and what arrangements we have in place for outside participation. Detailed information about the FOI Act is available on the Attorney-General's Department website: http://www.ag.gov.au

How to lodge a Freedom of Information request

A request for access to documents made under the FOI Act must:

  • be made in writing (this can be transmitted by email or fax);
  • be accompanied by the $30 application fee (this can be waived or refunded in some cases);
  • include an address in Australia to which replies and notices can be sent; and
  • provide enough information for the Department to identify the documents you wish to access.

It may not be possible to obtain access to all of the documents sought in an FOI request. Access is limited by exemptions that protect essential public interests, and private and business affairs of others.

If you need more information or wish to discuss making an FOI request, you can contact the Department by:

  • email: foi@dotars.gov.au;
  • fax: 02 6274 6775;
  • phone: 02 6274 7531; or
  • post: Freedom of Information Coordinator
    Department of Transport and Regional Services
    GPO Box 594

The Department usually imposes additional processing charges. The Freedom of Information Act 1982, Schedule of Fees and Charges sets out rates for the time spent searching for and retrieving relevant documents, decision making time, photocopying and other costs. Where charges are imposed, applicants are provided with an estimate of the processing charges and their agreement is sought before continuing.

What records we hold

Departmental records include the records of:

  • the Australian Transport Safety Bureau;
  • the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics;
  • the administrations of Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands; and
  • the Office of the Administrator, Norfolk Island.

Like many other Australian Government agencies, the Department holds records such as:

  • briefing papers and submissions prepared for Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Cabinet and Executive Council (noting that these are generally classified documents);
  • business papers, briefing notes and meeting records for committees and conferences in which we service or participate;
  • codes of practice;
  • documents prepared by international agencies;
  • documents relating to the development of legislation;
  • environmental impact statements;
  • internal administration documents;
  • international treaties, memoranda of understanding and international conventions;
  • legal documents, including legislation, contracts, leases and court documents;
  • maps and other geographical information;
  • ministerial responses to parliamentary questions, interdepartmental and general correspondence and papers;
  • policy documents, recommendations and decisions;
  • programme, fund and grant administration papers;
  • registers of documents, agreements, approvals, exemptions, permits and licences;
  • service delivery agreements;
  • statistics and databases; and
  • technical standards, guidelines, specifications, charts, photographs, drawings and manuals.

A digest of the personal information we hold is available at www.privacy.gov.au/government/digest. This information is updated annually.

Stages of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request

Step 1

The Applicant writes to the Department requesting access to specific information in documents held by the Department and includes either payment of the $30 application fee or a request to waive the fee.

Step 2

Within 14 days of receipt of an FOI application, the Department advises the applicant either

  • that the request is accepted and provides an FOI reference number; or
  • explains why it cannot accept the application (e.g. it does not hold the documents requested) and returns any application fee received.

Step 3

On payment (or waiver) of the application fee, the Department estimates the processing charges payable for access to the relevant documents.

  • Processing charges can be imposed to cover time spent searching for and retrieving relevant documents, decision making time, photocopying and other costs.
  • While the estimate of processing charges is being calculated, the Applicant may be contacted to clarify the scope of the FOI request.
  • It may be discovered that the information can be provided outside the FOI Act (e.g. it may already be available on the DOTARS web site). If so, the application fee will be refunded.
  • When complete, the estimate of processing charges is sent to the Applicant along with details about the next steps of the FOI application.

Step 4

The Applicant has 30 days to respond by either:

  • paying the processing charges (or a deposit if the cost is over $25), or
  • writing to contend the way the processing charges have been assessed and to request that they be reduced or not imposed at all.

Step 5

On receipt of the required payment (or waiver of the processing charges), the Department will process the FOI application. This may include consulting with third parties who might be affected by the release of the documents.

There are several possible outcomes. These are:

  • the documents may be released in full;
  • the release may be deferred if the document has a short-term sensitivity (e.g. until a report has been released); or
  • the documents may be partially released or withheld if some or all of the documents are found to be exempt under the FOI Act. (The Department must give reasons for this decision, and Applicants have appeal rights.)

Functions and decision-making powers

Our organisation and functions are described throughout this report.

Certain officers exercise decision-making powers and advise our ministers on the exercise of their powers under portfolio legislation and other matters. These responsibilities are as set out in the Administrative Arrangements Orders (AAO) for the Commonwealth of Australia and relate to:

  • transport safety, including investigations;
  • land transport;
  • civil aviation and airports;
  • transport security;
  • delivery of regional and rural specific services;
  • maritime transport, including shipping;
  • regional development;
  • matters relating to local government;
  • planning and land management in the Australian Capital Territory, administration of the Jervis Bay Territory, the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Territory of Christmas Island, the Coral Sea Islands Territory, the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands and Australian Government responsibilities for Norfolk Island;
  • constitutional development of the Australian Capital Territory;
  • constitutional development of the Northern Territory of Australia; and
  • natural disaster relief and mitigation in the form of financial assistance to the states and territories.

For a complete and up-to-date copy of the AAO visit www.pmc.gov.au or www.comlaw.gov.au and search for AAO.

To ensure that the Department's employees exercise their powers appropriately and to raise awareness of and access to their decision-making authorities, the Department uses an online delegations management system called i-Delegate. The system is being populated with information about the powers and authorities assigned to employees under the legislation set out in the AAO relating to the subject matters listed above and laws such as the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Public Service Act 1999.

To review a list of the manuals and other documents we use when making decisions or recommendations that affect the public contact any office of the National Archives of Australia or visit www.naa.gov.au.

Arrangements for outside participation

We consult widely to gain the views of our stakeholders and clients about future policy directions and programme delivery. This includes consulting with other Australian Government departments and agencies as appropriate and with foreign governments, particularly in the context of transport security, safety and aviation policy. The other key external bodies we consulted in 2006-07 are as listed in Table F.1.

Table F.1 External bodies consulted by the department in 2006-07

Body Main contact point(s) within the Department

International body
Ministerial body
Other national body
Regionally based body

Category of body Australian Transport Safety Bureau Office of Transport Security AusLink Maritime and Land Transport Aviation and Airports Regional Services Territories and Local Government Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics

Accessible Public Transport National Advisory Committee

Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia www.aerialag.com.au

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia www.aopa.com.au

Airport Environment Consultative Committees

All Australian National Ports

American Public Transit Association www.apta.com

Area Consultative Committees www.acc.gov.au

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Maritime Security Experts Group

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Aviation Security Experts Group

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Transportation Working Group www.apec.org

Association of Australian Ports and Marine Authorities www.aapma.org.au

Austasia Business Council

Australasian College of Road Safety www.acrs.org.au

Australasian Flight Safety Council

Australasian Fire Authorities Council

Australasian Railway Association www.ara.net.au

Australasian Road Rescue Association www.arro.org.au

Australasian Traffic Policing Forum

Australia-Indonesia Development Area Transport Working Group

Australian Airports Association www.aaal.com.au

Australian Automobile Association www.aaa.asn.au

Australian Ballooning Federation www.abf.net.au

Australian and International Pilots Association www.aipa.org.au

Australian Bicycle Council www.austroads.com.au/abc

Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Incorporated

Australian Coroners Society Inc.

Australian Driver Trainers Association www.adta.com.au

Australian Emergency Management Committee

Australian Federation of Air Pilots www.afap.org.au

Australian Freight Councils Network www.freightcouncils.com.au

Australian Government Agencies' Airport Security Committees

Australian Institute of Marine & Power Engineers www.aimpe.sitesuite.com.au

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Committee

Australian Institute of Petroleum

Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association www.alaea.asn.au

Australian Local Government Association www.alga.asn.au

Australian Logistics Council www.ozlogistics.org

Australian Marine Pilots Association

Australian Motor Vehicle Certification Board

Australian and New Zealand Regional Science Association International

Australian Peak Shippers Association Inc

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association www.appea.com.au

Australian Research Council Key Centre for Human Factors and Applied Cognitive Psychology www.humanfactors.uq.edu.au

Australian Research Council Research Network in Spatially Integrated Social Science

Aviation Safety foundation of Australasia (ASFA)

Australian Shipowners Association www.asa.com.au

Australian Sports Aviation Confederation (ASAC) www.asac.asn.au

Australian Strategic Air Traffic Management Group (ASTRA) www.astra.aero

Australian Transport Council www.atcouncil.gov.au

Australian Trucking Association

Australian Ultralight Federation (see Recreational Aviation Australia)

Austroads Council www.austroads.com.au

Aviation Security Identity Card Working Group

Aviation Security Advisory Forum

Aviation Security Training Working Group

Aviation Stakeholders' Conference

Aviation Working Group

Board of Airline Representatives of Australia

Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre

Bus Industry Confederation

Cargo Working Group

Carnival Australia www.carnivalaustralia.com

Christmas Island Islamic Council

Christmas Island Tourism Association www.christmas.net.au

City of Wodonga

Civil Air www.civilair.asn.au

Committee to Advise on Recall and Safety

Commonwealth/State Emergency Services Officials Group

Commonwealth/State/Local Government Joint Officer' Group

Commonwealth/State Planning Officials Group

Competitive Carriers Coalition

Conference of Asia-Pacific Express Carriers

Council of Australian Governments www.coag.gov.au

Critical Infrastructure Protection Working Group

Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia www.cbfca.com.au

Development Assessment Forum www.daf.gov.au

European Council of Ministers of Transport www.cemt.org

Fatigue Management Pilot Working Group

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries

Flag State Implementation Subcommittee of the International Maritime Organization

Flight Attendants Association of Australia www.faaa.net

Flight Safety Forums

Flinders University

Gliding Federation of Australia www.gfa.org.au

Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue Advisory Panel and Regulation Reference Group

Heavy Vehicle Safety Strategy Task Force

Helicopter Industry Association

High Level Group on Aviation Security

Human Factors Advisory Group

Indigenous Road Safety Working Group

Industry Consultative Meeting (Aviation Security)

Intelligent Transport Systems Australia www.its-australia.com.au

International Transport Safety Association www.itsasafety.org

International Air Transport Association www.iata.org

International Civil Aviation Organization www.icao.int

International Maritime Organization www.imo.org

Jervis Bay Territory JBT Emergency Management Committee

Joint Agencies Maritime Advisory Group

Justice Issues Group, Jervis Bay Territory

Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area Management Board (Norfolk Island)

Land Transport Environment Committee www.ephc.gov.au/ltec

Local Government and Planning Ministers Council www.lgpmcouncil.gov.au

Local Government Association Roundtable

Local Government Managers' Association www.lgma.org.au

Long-term Operating Plan Implementation Monitoring Committee

Marine Accident Investigators International Forum www.maiif.net

Maritime Industry Security Consultative Forum

Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization

Maritime Security Identification Card Working Group

Maritime Union of Australia www.mua.org.au

Minerals Council of Australia www.minerals.org.au

Motorcycle Safety Consultative Committee

Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management

National Advisory Facilitation Committee

National Aerial Fire Fighting Centre www.nafc.org.au

National Awards for Innovation in Local Government - judging panel

National Farmers Federation www.nff.org.au

National Road Safety Strategy Panel

National Tourism and Aviation Advisory Committee

National Transport Commission

Northern Advanced Manufacturing Industry Group

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development www.oecd.org

Overnight Air Operators Association

Pedestrian Council of Australia www.walk.com.au/pedestriancouncil/

Public Health and Environment Committee

Rail, Tram and Bus Union

Recreational Aviation Australia www.auf.asn.au

Regional Aviation Association of Australia www.raaa.com.au

Regional Development Council www.rdcouncil.gov.au/about.aspx

Regional Women's Advisory Council www.dotars.gov.au/regional/councils/rwac/index.aspx

Research Coordination Advisory Group

Road Safety Black Spot Programme Consultative Panels

Road Safety Marketing and Public Education Forum

Royal Australasian College of Surgeons www.surgeons.org

Safeskies Australia www.safeskiesaustralia.org

Screening Improvement Group

Secretariat of the Pacific Community

Shipping Australia Ltd www.shippingaustralia.com.au

Shire of Christmas Island www.Christmas.shire.gov.cx

Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands www.shire.cc

Sports Aircraft Association of Australia www.saaa.com

Standing Committee on Regional Development

Standing Committee on Transport

Standing Committee on Transport -Transport Security Working Group

Sustainable Regions Advisory Committees www.sustainableregions.gov.au

Sydney Airport Community Forum www.sacf.dotars.gov.au

Technical Liaison Group

Technology Working Group

Transport Emissions Liaison Group

Transport Security Working Group

Transport Workers Union http://twu.com.au/

Truck Industry Council

Trusted Information Sharing Network

TT-Line Company

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe www.unece.org/trans/danger/danger.htm

US Engine Manufacturers Association

US Environment Protection Agency


Victorian Transport Association www.vta.com.au

Woodside Petroleum Ltd www.woodside.com.au

Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council

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