Right to Information
Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA)
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act) provides a proactive, open approach to gaining access to government information in New South Wales (NSW). The objects of the GIPA Act are to maintain and advance a system of responsible and representative democratic Government that is open, accountable, fair and effective.
The GIPA Act:
- authorises and encourages the proactive release of information by NSW public sector agencies
- gives members of the public a legally enforceable right to access government information
- ensures that access to government information is restricted only when there is an overriding public interest against releasing that information.
The GIPA Act applies to all NSW government agencies, and also extends to Ministers and their staff, local councils, state-owned corporations, courts in their non-judicial functions, and to certain public authorities, such as universities.
The guiding principle of the GIPA Act is public interest. It is generally presumed that all government agencies will disclose or release information, unless there is an overriding public interest against doing so. Under the GIPA Act it is compulsory for agencies to provide information about their structure, functions and policies, and agencies are encouraged to proactively and informally release as much other information as possible.
Under the GIPA Act there are four ways that government information will be released:
State 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.
State 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.
State 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.
State 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.