Amendments to the RTI Act and IP Act
Recent amendments to the Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act) and Information Privacy Act 2009 (IP Act) will mean some changes in the way agencies process their applications. Many of these changes were minor, but some will impact on the processing of applications and the writing of decision letters. These include:
The deletion of irrelevant information from documents no longer requires that the applicant would accept a copy with the information deleted, ie their 'agreement' is no longer necessary. Agencies can simply remove irrelevant information where it is reasonably practicable to give access to such a copy. Agencies may have referred to this now-removed requirement in their opening letters or their decision letters; any templates should be updated to remove these references.
The sections of the Acts that refer to the deletion of exempt and contrary to the public interest information, sections 74 and 75 of the RTI Act and 89 and 90 of the IP Act, are now worded differently from each other. Agencies will need to be aware of the differences in the wording between the RTI Act and the IP Act when writing their decision letters.
There are new RTI Act sections—sections 75A and 75B—that have no equivalent in the IP Act. These sections refer to the deletion of contrary to the best interests of a child information and healthcare information and are similar to sections 74 and section 75 of the RTI Act. Again, agencies should be aware of these differences when writing their decision letters and consult the relevant OIC guidelines.
There is a new category of documents to which the RTI Act does not apply: documents relating to judicial appointments. This category applies to documents received or created on or before 15 July 2016. Refer to Documents to which the Act does not apply for more information.
There were also changes made to the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) in the IP Act. IPP 2(5) and IPP 11(3) received amendments, while IPP 11(1) received a new disclosure exception, IPP 11(1)(ea) allowing agencies to disclose information to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. There are a number of requirements before this exception can be relied on, so agencies should apply it with care. The National Privacy Principles were not amended. For complete coverage of the amendments please see the Court and Civil Legislation Amendment Act 2017 or contact the Enquiries Service on 07 3243 7373 or firstname.lastname@example.org