29 Refusal to deal with application - agency's or Minister's functions

(1) An agency or Minister may refuse to deal with an application for access to documents or, if the agency or Minister is considering 2 or more applications by the applicant, all the applications, if the agency or Minister considers the work involved in dealing with the application or all the applications would, if carried out—

(a) substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from their use by the agency in the performance of its functions; or

(b) interfere substantially and unreasonably with the performance by the Minister of the Minister's functions.

(2) Without limiting the matters to which the agency or Minister may have regard in making a decision under subsection (1), the agency or Minister must have regard to the resources that would have to be used—

(a) in identifying, locating or collating the documents in the filing system of the agency or the Minister's office; or

(b) in deciding whether to give, refuse or defer access to the documents, or to give access to edited copies of the documents, including resources that would have to be used—

(i) in examining the documents; or

(ii) in consulting with an entity in relation to the application; or

(c) in making a copy, or edited copy, of the documents; or

(d) in notifying any interim or final decision on the application.

(3) In deciding whether to refuse, under subsection (1), to give access to documents, an agency or Minister must not have regard to—

(a) any reasons the applicant gives for applying for access; or

(b) the agency's or Minister's belief about what are the applicant’s reasons for applying for access.

(4) If—

(a) an application is expressed to relate to all documents, or to all documents of a stated class, that contain information of a stated kind or relate to a stated subject matter; and

(b) it appears to the agency or Minister that all of the documents to which the application relates are exempt documents; the agency or Minister may refuse to deal with the application without having identified any or all of the documents.

(5) The notice of the agency's or Minister's decision under subsection (4) to refuse to deal with an application must identify the provision under which the documents are exempt documents.