The new right to information laws promote openness, accountability and transparency and will make government agencies more proactive in providing information to the public.
The GIPA Act applies to all NSW government agencies, including State Government departments, Ministers and their staff, local councils and State-owned corporations.
The object of the GIPA Act is to make more information publicly available, provide equal access to information across all sectors of the community, and provide appropriate protection for an individual's privacy.
The GIPA Act will make it easier for applicants to access information from state and local agencies by placing less emphasis on formal applications. The central premise of this Act is that government information should be disclosed, and only withheld if it is necessary to do so in the public interest.
Ways to access government information
The new Right to Information system in New South Wales aims to foster responsible and representative government that is open, accountable, fair and effective.
Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act) there are four ways that government information will be released:
Mandatory releaseState and local Government agencies are required to publish specific open access information on their website, free of charge. For example, this could include a register of government contracts, policies, media releases and annual reports.
Proactive releaseState and local Government agencies are encouraged to make as much other information as possible publicly available in an appropriate manner, including on the internet. The information should be available free of charge or at the lowest reasonable cost. For example, frequently requested information or information of public interest may be readily available.
Informal releaseState and local Government agencies are authorised to release other information in response to an informal request, subject to any reasonable conditions an agency imposes. For example, such information could include requests for personal information by the individual concerned.
Formal releaseState and local Government agencies may release information in response to a formal access application. This is the last resort, if the information is not available in any other way.