Freedom of information

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The broad objective of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 provides the public a legal right to seek access to documents held by the Government.

Access to documents is limited only by exemptions that protect essential public interests and the private and business affairs of people whom departments and statutory authorities hold information.

Members of the public seeking access to documents that may be held by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources​ should lodge a formal FOI request.

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Some information will be available to you outside the FOI Act, without following the formal proc​ess, for example personal information about you. If you are looking for specific information, you should check the information the department has published under the Information Publication Scheme, our Operational Information and our FOI Disclosure log to see if what you seek access to is already publicly available.

In order for the department to process your request as quickly as possible, at the lowest possible cost, your request must:

  • be made in writing
  • state that you are seeking information in accordance with the FOI Act
  • provide enough information for the department to clearly identify the scope of your request, the time periods your request falls under and the category of documents sought. i.e. reports, minutes, emails etc (further guidance is included in the FOI frequently asked questions page).
  • specify an address (either email or physical) so the department can correspond with you about your request.

You may also wish to provide a phone number to make it easier for us to consult with you about your request.

FOI requests should be sent to:

FOI Officer
Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601

Or via email Freedom of Information request form

We will acknowledge you request within 14 calendar days of receipt and will endeavour to process your request within 30 calendar days. However, where the FOI Act requires us to consult with a third party, for example, the documents you seek access to contain personal information about a third party, or where we need to consult a State government entity, the time for processing your request will be extended by an additional 30 calendar days.

If we envisage that we will not complete your request within the statutory timeframes due to its complexity or the large volume of documents, we may seek your agreement to an extension of time for the processing of your request, or alternatively, may seek an extension from the Information Commissioner.

It is important to note that it may not be possible to obtain access to all or any of the documents sought in the request because they may be exempt from release under the FOI Act.

From 1 November 2010 the following fees apply:

Fees and charges for FOI
RequestCharge
ApplicationNo fee
Search and retrieval$15 per hour
Decision making and consultationFirst five hours free, after that $20 per hour
When FOI request is not responded to within the statutory time limitNo fees
Internal reviewNo fee
Request for personal informationNo fee

Where the department decides that you are liable to pay a charge for access to a document, it must give you a written notice stating its preliminary assessment of the charge. The department uses a charges calculator XLS [68 KB] as a guide to estimating preliminary charges.

You may also contend that the charge has been wrongly assessed, or should be reduced or not imposed. In deciding whether to reduce or not to impose a charge, the decision-maker must, amongst other things:

  • take into account whether payment of the charge, or part of it, would cause you financial hardship; and
  • whether the giving of access to the documents is in the general public interest.

Payment of charges can be made via cheques or money orders are to be made payable to the Collector of Public Money. Payment may also be made through direct deposit, by contacting the FOI Officer.

More information on making an FOI request and the FOI process within the department is available under FOI questions and answers.

Please contact the department's FOI Officer: Switchboard: +61 2 6272 3933 or email Freedom of Information for further information.

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Last reviewed:
06 Feb 2017