1.1 Policy Background
On 1 July 2010
In 1998, Section 12 of the Local
Government Act 1993 (LGA) and Freedom of Information Act 1989 (FOI) were replaced amended with the Government
Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA) to provide a general right of
access to information held by Council that, in
addition to documents listed in Section 12(1) of the Act, Council must allow
inspection to documents free of charge subject to a number of exemptions.
introduction of the GIPA
Government Act , 19 9 3 brings local authorities fully under
the provisions of open government information access the
Freedom of Information Act 1989 (FOI) and Privacy and Personal
Information Protection Act 1998 (PPIPA).
1.2 Purpose of this Policy
The purpose of this policy is to facilitate public access to Council information held in documents in accordance with the provisions of:
12 - Local Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 ( L GA) § Freedom
of Government Information (Public Access) Regulation 2009 Act ( FOI)
§ Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
1.3 The Scope of this Policy
applies to all members of the public wishing to access Council information,
Councillors and Council employees
Parramatta City Council.
the context of this policy refers to Council documents
in Section 1.7 of this policy.
1.4 Policy Principles
City Council is committed to the following principles regarding
public access to documents and information:
§ open and transparent government
§ public access to information held by Council, having
LGA, PPIPA and the FOI GIPA
§ consideration of ‘public interest’ in the assessment of all requests
§ a supportive, safe and trusting workplace
§ a co-operative teamwork approach
§ community focus and customer service
§ improving our results
§ providing value for money
§ respect for the privacy of individuals
§ proactive disclosure and dissemination of information
1.5 Objectives of this Policy
The objective of
this policy is to explain Council’s principles regarding access to Council held
to facilitate Council documents
together with facilitiating the timely processing of requests for such
access. This policy is to be read in
conjunction with the Guidelines for Access to Information and Council’s Privacy
1.6.1 Relationship to Parramatta City Council - Strategic Plans and Other Documents
Core IT Systems
This is a major project including the review
interoperability between core business systems, indexing of documents in TRIM,
searching and retrieval of information and business process improvement.
Corporate Strategy – ‘Customer Service delivering the best possible services to our
community’ and ‘Communication Good
It is Council’s commitment to understand and meet our customers’ needs
whilst communicating openly, honestly and clearly
providing leadership and good governance, focusing on the delivery of services
to our community
Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct and associated Procedures provide a sound framework for ethical decision-making in the day-to-day activities of Council employees. See Section 8 – Access to Council Information and Resources.
Policy for Interaction between Councillors and Staff
This policy provides a process on how Councillors can access Council information necessary for them to exercise their statutory role and how, Councillors and staff interact.
Use of Electronic Mail and Internet
on requirements that relate to the use of email and internet, by
its employees, for the purpose of identifying the obligations and standards
that must be observed whilst using Council systems. See Section 8.3 – Use of Council Resources
(Code of Conduct) and Internet & Email Policy & Guidelines (201 00).
Privacy Management Plan
This plan protects the privacy of Council’s customers and officers, in particular the personal information held by Council. The plan complies with the 12 Information Protection Principles in relation to the handling of personal information prescribed under the PPIPA..
Complaints and Compliments Policy
This policy relates to how Council manages the complaints and compliments it receives. See the section “How should Complaints be treated”.
Whistleblowers Protection Policy
This policy establishes an internal reporting system for the reporting of disclosures of corrupt conduct, maladministration or serious and substantial waste of public money by Council’s staff and its Councillors. See Section 9 – Rights of Persons the Subject of Disclosure; Section 10.3 – Confidentiality and Section 10.4 – Freedom of Information Exemption.
1.6.2 Legislation and References
18.104.22.168 Commonwealth Acts and Australian Standards
Privacy Act 1988
Copyright Act 1968
22.214.171.124 N.S.W. Acts, Codes and Practice Notes
Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
Privacy and Personal Information Protection Regulation 2000
Health Records and Personal Protection Act 2000 (HRIPA)
Local Government Act 1993
of IInformation (Public Access) Act 200 1989
(Sections 9 15 and 10 6) Practice Note No. 7 – Freed om ofGovernment Information (Public
Access) Regulation 2009 (LGSA)
Anti-Discrimination Act 1977
State Records Act 1998
Workplace Surveillance Act 2005
Protected Disclosures Act 1994
Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
The ‘Guidelines for Access to Information’ associated with this policy, specifies the documents and types of information that are available for public access and any restrictions that may apply.
Parramatta City Council will assess
all requests for access to documents and information in a timely manner and in
accordance with the ‘Guidelines for Access to Information’ and relevant
Depending upon the nature of the request and the form of access requested, charges may be applicable in accordance with Council’s Schedule of Fees and Charges and any relevant legislation.
Document has the meaning given to that term in GIPA
being defined in accordance with the definition contained
in the Freedom
of Information Act 1989 ie.:
other material on which there is writing or in or on which there are marks,
symbols or perforations having a meaning, whether or not that meaning is
ascertainable only by persons qualified to interpret them, and (b) any disc, tape or other article from
which sounds, images or messages are capable of being reproducedocument
or other source of information compiled, recorded or stored in written form or
by electronic process, or in any other manner or by any other means.
Documents in the context of
this policy refer to any
held on an official Council file or database, as well as informal files or
databases maintained by Council Officers or Councillors.
Personal information has the meaning given to that term in
defined in Section 4 of PPIPA as:
Personal information is defined to mean information or an opinion about an individual whose identity is apparent or can reasonably be ascertained from the information or opinion. This information can be on a database and does not necessarily have to be recorded in a material form.
Personal information does not "include information about an individual that is contained in a publicly available publication”. Personal information, once it is contained in a publicly available publication, ceases to be covered by PPIPA.
1.8 What Documents are freely available?
Council will promote disclosure and dissemination of information about its operations, plans and decisions and information that promotes community advancement. There are 4 ways to access government information as they are described as mandatory, proactive, informal and formal release.
Members of the
public may inspect, free of charge, the current version of a document(s) listed
ectionchedule 5 Part 2 12(1) LGIPA
Regulations – Open access information of
local authoritie What information is publicly avails. The public may also inspect, free of charge,
preceding versions of these documents, if those versions are reasonably
accessible. Other Council held documents
are also accessible, free of charge, other than except
for tthose that are exempt from disclosure under Section 14 of the
GIPA Act, which may include the following:
(a) where access to the information would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest
(b) any part of a document dealing with personnel matters concerning particular individuals (other than Councillors)
(c) any part of a document that
can reveal an individual’s personal information
with the personal hardship of any resident, ratepayer or other person
(d) any part of a document
dealing with trade secretsthat could
diminish the competitive commercial value of any information
(e) information which would, if disclosed, prejudice the maintenance of law
(f) matters affecting the security of the Council, Councillors, Council staff or property
(g) that part of a draft or adopted Plan of Management which applies to the location of places and items of Aboriginal significance and is the subject of a resolution of confidentiality
(h) a matter the disclosure of which would constitute an offence against an Act or found an action for breach of confidence
(i) plans and specifications contained in development applications for any residential parts of a proposed building, other than plans that merely show its height and its external configurations in relation to the site on which it is erected, except where the applicant is the owner or the owner’s consent has been obtained to view the plans and specifications
(j) commercial information
of a confidential nature which would,
if the information would be disclosed,
be likely to prejudice the commercial position of the person who
supplied it , confer a commercial advantage on a competitor of
the Council or to reveal a trade secret
(k) information which would, if disclosed, confer a commercial advantage on a person with whom Council is conducting or proposes to conduct business
(l) any part of a document that contains advice concerning litigation or advice that would otherwise be privileged from production in legal proceedings on the grounds of legal professional privilege
1.9 What Documents are not freely available?
For the purposes of this policy, Council has determined that it would be contrary to the public interest to allow access to the following categories of documents:
(a) name and address of a person who has made a complaint to Council regarding the activities of another person or organisation (in this case, only the nature of the complaint will be made available)
(b) tenders and expressions of interest lodged with Council except so much of the tender as is required to be made available under the Local Government (Tendering) Regulation 1993 ie. the name and amount of the successful tenderer and the names of the unsuccessful tenderers and register of government contracts that are established and maintained under Section 27 of the GIPA Act.
(c) Documents containing financial or commercial information regarding a person or organisation, including Council, the disclosure of which, in the opinion of Council’s Public Officer, if released could have an unreasonable adverse effect on the person or organisation, may jeopardise Council’s position in any future negotiations or could jeopardise Council’s ability to obtain such information in the future
(e) The name and address of property owners and property sales information except where:
- the property owner is the person requesting the information
- an adjoining owner is requesting the information for fencing or other purposes allowed by statute
- the information is contained on a public register which Council is required to maintain and make available for inspection in accordance with PPIPA
- the information is provided in accordance with Section 603 of the LGA (rating information)
- the information is given out in the course of processing an application before Council
- the information is required by another government agency to carry out a legitimate function of that agency
- the information is obtained by inspecting a Council document under this policy
(f) Other documents, the release of which, in the opinion of Council’s Public Officer, would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest or would cause an unreasonable diversion of Council resources.
None of the documents defined in this policy requires Council to retain documents for any period beyond that specified in the General Records Disposal Schedule for Local Government under the State Records Act.
1.10 How will Council protect Access to Information?
Information which is exempt, will be removed from the file prior to viewing. The applicant will be advised of the nature of the documents removed and the reason for removal. Where the document has been removed, the reason why release of the document is not considered to be in the public interest will be provided.
1.11 What Documents will not be Copied
Copies of documents are available on request for a fee, except for the following documents, which cannot be copied:
§ residential roll of electors
§ resumes of candidates for election
§ building certificates, unless the consent of the
owner of the building is obtained
§ plans of buildings and developments, unless the approval of the copyright owner has been obtained, or where the plans of a proposed building show only its height and external configuration in relation to the site
§ bulk property information such as development consent registers, sales registers etc unless the information is required by a government agency for statistical or other purposes consistent with the legitimate functions of that agency
Documents defined in this policy eg. complaints, tenders and legal advice, which are more than 15 years old may be released at the discretion of the Public Officer.
1.12 Handling of Personal Information
Where Council invites or requests any person or organisation to provide information to Council including applications, submissions, comments or objections, the person or organisation must be advised of the existence of this policy, the purpose for which the information is being collected by Council and the possibility that the information they provide to Council may be made available to a third party, subject to the public interest.
Applicants may not alter documents in any way. However, an applicant may request that a document containing their personal information be altered in accordance with Section 15 of the PPIPA or Division 4 of the HRIPA.
addition to the exemptions contained within Section 14 of GIPA Act,
Council has determined that it is not in the public interest to supply the
personal information of complainants and will
not make available personal details of complainants, (as defined
under Council’s Privacy Management Plan), however, the subject of the complaint
will be released unless such release would breach Section 14 2
of the LGIPA
Act subject to:
(a) this exemption relates to
‘complainants’ only and does not cover submissions to
for development applications
(b) this is intended to protect the identity of complainants but allow access to the nature of the complaint. Where release of the nature of the complaint may also provide information, which would be protected under the Privacy Act, the details of the complaint will not be released.
Applications for access to personal information in accordance with Sections 13 and 14 of the PPIPA, shall be dealt with as applications under this policy.
The name and address of a person who has lodged an objection or submission to a development application is available for access under this policy.
1.13 Processing - Time, Fees and Charges
applicable to this policy shall be determined and form part of
as part of the Scheduled Fees and Charges
for each yearannually adopted by
processing time for access to information under
12 the LGIPA
Act will be:
available within 48 hours (acknowledgement of an application within
§ informal access
applications being made within
working 1 days or longer depending if information
is store doff-site
applications within 20 working days (statutory requirement).
The Service Audit & Review Unit will develop and maintain procedures for dealing with and determining applications for access to information under this policy. These procedures will include but are not limited to matters such as the length of appointments and method of contacting applicants.
Where information is released to an applicant under a formal access application and Council considers that it will be of interest to other members of the public, Council will provide details of the information in a Disclosure Log for inspection by the public.
1.14 Refusal of Applications
for access to Council held information will generally be limited to 2
applications per matter in any 6 month period.
The Public Officer has the right to refuse access to information, should
the quantity of applications exceed the quantity specified or no new
information has been received and placed on the file since the previous
application. Any rejection of subsequent
applications in the period may be subject of an appeal to the
General ManagerChief Executive Officer.
Broad requests for access to a large number of unspecified documents which, if processed, would divert substantial Council resources from dealing with other requests or performing other Council functions, may be refused on the grounds that such a diversion of resources is contrary to the public interest. Council will endeavour to assist in defining the request to a more manageable one.
refusal of access to a
in accordance with informal access under the Section
12 LGIPA Act, does not prevent the applicant from applying for formal
access to the document record under the Freedom of Information Government
Information (Public Access) Act 20 10 989.
Where access to
information is restricted in accordance with this policy, the applicant will be
advised in writing of the nature of the restricted information and the reason
for the restriction. In accordance with GIPA
FOI, Council may review reasons for
any restrictions imposed on access to information, every 3 months.
1.15 Review Date
This Policy will be reviewed annually from the date of Council resolution.
1.16 Document Owner
The Owner of the Policy is the Manager Service Audit & Review and has been developed in consultation with the:
§ Policy Review Officer
Development Services § Corporate
Librarian § Service
Manager Records § Manager
Information Systems § Section
12 Clerk § Manager
Human Resources § Service
Manager Customer Contact Centre
Website DeveloperGeneral Counsel
1.17 Policy Register and File Number
The Policy Register number for this Policy is 225
The File Reference for this Policy is G:/Docs/Policies/Access to Information.
This Policy was
adopted by Council resolution on Monday, 18 October
2010 6 (Min. No. XXXX 5519).