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Appendix F - Report under the Freedom Of Information Act 1982

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:

  • developing and providing national policy advice to enhance transport safety and security and to strengthen social and economic opportunities for Australia's regions and local governments;
  • investing in infrastructure and administering programs to enhance the safety of the road transport system, develop Australia's regions and support local governments;
  • conducting research and investigations to improve the performance, safety and security of Australian transport systems, support policy development and inform the wider community;
  • providing regulatory frameworks to ensure a clear and robust transport environment; and
  • working with other levels of government and engaging domestically and internationally with stakeholders to facilitate outcomes for all Australians.

This appendix explains how to request access to documents held by the Department under the FOI Act, what records the Department holds, and what arrangements the Department has in place for outside participation.

Detailed information about the FOI Act is available via the website of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, at www.pmc.gov.au/foi/annual_reports.cfm.

Table F.1 gives trend information for FOI Act requests received and handled by the Department.

Table F.1 Trends in freedom of information requests, 2004-05 to 2008-09

  2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
Volume of requests handled
Requests on hand at 1 July (A) 15 13 11 12 5
New requests received (B) 69 74 39 34 45
Requests withdrawn or transferred in full (C) 21 38 11 15 15
Requests on hand at 30 June (D) 13 11 12 5 12
Total requests resolved (A+B-C-D) 50 38 27 26 23
Timeliness of responses to requestsa
Resolved in < 30 days 10 15 10 15 12
Resolved in 31-60 days 27 13 6 4 8
Resolved in 61-90 days 8 5 5 4 2
Resolved in > 90 days 5 5 6 3 1

a These statistics cannot be compared with the deadlines set in the Freedom of Information Act 1982 as the Act allows for extensions of time to allow for consultation with third parties, negotiation of fees and other issues. Resolved requests include transfers to other agencies.

How to lodge a request for information

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 other parties.

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

email: foi@infrastructure.gov.au;
fax: 02 6275 1347;
phone: 02 6274 7531; or
post: Freedom of Information Coordinator
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
GPO Box 594

The Department usually imposes additional processing charges. The Schedule of Fees and Charges to the FOI Regulations sets out rates for the time spent searching for and retrieving relevant documents, decision-making time, photocopying and other costs. Where charges are imposed, the Department provides an estimate of the processing charges to the applicant and seeks their agreement before continuing to process the request.

Records the Department holds

The Department holds records such as:

  • briefing papers and submissions prepared for ministers, parliamentary secretaries, the Cabinet and the Executive Council (most of these are classified documents);
  • business papers, briefing notes and meeting records for committees and conferences which the Department services or takes part in;
  • codes of practice;
  • documents prepared by international agencies;
  • documents relating to the development of legislation;
  • environmental impact statements;
  • internal administration documents;
  • international treaties, memorandums 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;
  • program, 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 the Department holds is available via the Office of the Privacy Commissioner's website, at www.privacy.gov.au/government/digests. This information is updated annually.

Functions and decision-making powers

The Department's functions are described throughout this report.

Certain officers exercise decision-making powers and advise the 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:

  • infrastructure planning and coordination;
  • 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; and
  • major projects facilitation.

For a complete and up-to-date copy of the AAO, visit www.pmc.gov.au.

To assist departmental employees in exercising their powers appropriately and enabling access to their decision-making authorities, the Department uses an online delegations management system called i-Delegate. The system allows employees to check information about the powers and authorities assigned 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 the Department uses 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

The Department consults widely to gain the views of its stakeholders and clients about future policy directions and program delivery. This includes consulting with other Australian state and territory government departments and agencies as appropriate and with foreign governments, particularly in the context of transport security, safety and aviation policy. For particular policy issues, the Department may also contact a very broad range of stakeholders.

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