Right to Information
The Right to Information Act 2009 (the Act) provides members of the public with the right to obtain information held by public authorities and Ministers.
The Tasmanian Audit Office is a public authority under the Act.
The Act aims to improve democratic government by:
- increasing the accountability of government;
- increasing the ability of the public to participate in government decision making processes; and
- acknowledging that public authorities collect information for and on behalf of members of the public
- authorises and encourages routine disclosure of information held by public authorities without the need for requests or applications;
- authorises and encourages active disclosure of information held by public authorities in response to informal requests without the need for applications;
- gives members of the public an enforceable right to information held by public authorities; and
- provides that access to information held by government bodies is restricted in only limited circumstances which are defined in the Act.
Under section 6 of the RTI Act, the Auditor-General is exempt from providing any requested information unless it relates to the administration of the Office. Information relating to financial and performance audits conducted and reports to Parliament are regarded as exempt, being classified as internal working information, as is information compiled in making preliminary assessments following receipt of referrals.
The Auditor-General is also required to comply with section 46 of the Audit Act 2008 (the Audit Act) the practical effect of which is to forbid him and any person employed in his Office or contracted by him from disclosing any confidential matter that comes to his or their knowledge in the course of employment or duties under either the Audit Act or another Act. Because of this, the provision displaces any other duty or obligation to disclose information which might otherwise arise and only permits the disclosure of such information if that disclosure is required in connection with the administration of the Audit Act or in connection with the administration of that other Act.
The Office has a policy which relates to the process of disclosing information in accordance with the Right to Information Act 2009. This is may be done through publications or via this website.
Download the policy.
The Act provides that information may be released to the public through the following methods:
Required disclosure is disclosure required by law, including under an enforceable agreement. Examples include the requirement to publish an annual report or a decision made under legislation.
The Tasmanian Audit Office must publish annual reports, and these can be accessed through the Office’s Reports webpage.
Routine disclosure is the disclosure of information which a public authority decides may be of interest to the public. Examples include Financial and Performance Audit Reports, Annual Plans of Work, client reference information, or the Office’s Gifts and Benefits Register. This information can be accessed through the Office’s webpage.
Active disclosure is the disclosure of information in response to a request made other than by way of a Right to Information application. An example is the provision of information to a member of the public in response to a letter.
Assessed disclosure takes place as a result of a formal request through a right to information application. Assessed disclosure of information is a last resort as the Act requires the Office to put processes in place to make information freely available through required, routine or active disclosures.
Information sought though a right to information application might already be public or the Office may release information without proceeding to a formal assessment under the Act.
All information must be disclosed, unless it is exempt information as defined by the Act. Further information on exemptions is contained in the Ombudsman’s Manual.
Information released in response to a right to information application deemed to be in the broader public interest will be published on the Office’s Disclosure Register.
Personal Information Protection Act 2004
In certain circumstances, it may be possible to seek access to personal information which the Office holds about you through the Personal Information Protection Act 2004.
It is recommended that you contact the Office to discuss whether the application should be made under the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 or as an application for assessed disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009.
How to make a Right to Information Application
Prior to making a right to information application, you should –
- Check to see if the information is already publicly available, e.g. it may be published on the Office’s website. Applicants should always have looked for the information before making a formal application. If the information is otherwise available, your application may be refused without the return of your application fee.
- Check to make sure that application should be made to this Office and not another public authority.
Publicly available material can be found across the Office’s website and from our:
- Publications webpage, including our Annual Report and Annual Plan of Work
- Information on our current audits
- General client reference information and other useful information
- Policies webpage
- Newsfeed and Communications on our webpage
- Disclosure register
Other places to look may include:
The Service Tasmania Network:
- The Service Tasmania website
- or visit a Service Tasmania office
- or call 1300 135 513
- or contact Service Tasmania via their online form, service.tas.gov.au/contact/ask
Via Tasmania Online:
- Search for information at tas.gov.au
If you have not been able to locate the information you are looking for, you may lodge a right to information application.
Right to information applications to the Tasmanian Audit Office should be made on the following form:
To lodge an application, email your completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to:
Right to Information Officer
Tasmanian Audit Office
GPO Box 851
Hobart TAS 7001
Applications must be accompanied by the application fee. This fee is 25 fee units, which is $44.50 as at 1 July 2023 and is indexed annually.
You can apply to have the application fee waived if one of the following applies:
- you are in financial hardship, e.g. unemployed or currently in prison – the Department will need evidence such as a Centrelink Health Care Card
- you are a Member of Parliament acting in connection with your official duty
- you are a journalist acting in connection with your professional duties
- you are able to show that you intend to use the information for a purpose that is of general public interest or benefit.
Applicants should note that if seeking a waiver of the application fee on the basis of general public interest, and it is determined that the information is in the broader public interest, publication of the released information is likely. Applicants’ names will not be published but a category of applicant will be published, i.e. Member of Parliament, media representative, private individual.
After you lodge an application
After the Office receives your application:
- you may be contacted to confirm the exact nature of the information being sought
- searches will be undertaken to identify what information relating to the application is held by the Office
- the information will be assessed to see whether it can be disclosed or whether it is subject to any exemptions to disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Audit Act 2008
- you will be advised of the outcome, normally within 20 days, but this may be extended in the event that the Office has to consult with third parties
You will receive a written response to your application. If some or all of the information being requested is not released, you will be given written reasons for not disclosing the information to you.
If you disagree with the Office’s decision, you may request the Office to conduct an internal review of the decision. Such a request must be made within 20 working days after notice of the decision is given to you.
If you are still dissatisfied with the Office’s decision, you may request the Ombudsman to conduct an external review of the decision. Such a request must be made within 20 working days after notice of the decision on the internal review is given to you.
Details of how to request a review are provided to applicants in written decisions.
Right to Information Annual Report
Section 53 of the Right to Information Act 2009 requires the Tasmanian Audit Office to prepare a report for each financial year on the administration of the Act.
The report contains statistical information on right to information requests for all public authorities.
The annual report can be downloaded from the links below:
Office of the Ombudsman
The information provided in this section is designed to help public authorities in the administration of Right to Information.
Principal Officers of public authorities or Ministers may delegate some or all of their functions powers under section 24 of the Act to another person, where the Principal Officer or Minister is satisfied that the person has the skills and knowledge necessary to perform those functions or exercise those powers.
Certain information released in response to Right to Information requests is published online within 48 hours of being released to the applicant. This only applies to applications received after 9 June 2015.
The new approach makes information released to an applicant available to a wider audience and increases Government transparency and accountability.
Information is published if it is determined that the information is in the broader public interest.
No personal information or information of a commercial or confidential nature will be published.