4 Disclosing deliberative processes

OIC note: The public interest balancing test is explained in the Annotation to section 47(3)(b) of the RTI Act. Specifically, for more detailed information about how the public interest test has been applied in particular contexts or in relation to particular documents, please see the ‘Public interest test applied - contexts’ part of that Annotation. In addition, the ‘Public interest test applied - factors’ part of that Annotation provides links to decisions which have considered particular public interest factors listed in schedule 4, as well as links to FOI Act Annotations where FOI Act provisions operated in a similar way to the current RTI Act public interest factors.

(1) Disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause a public interest harm through disclosure of—

(a) an opinion, advice or recommendation that has been obtained, prepared or recorded; or

(b) a consultation or deliberation that has taken place; in the course of, or for, the deliberative processes involved in the functions of government.

Examples of information of the type mentioned in subsection (1)

  • a document prepared by an agency about projections of future revenue for the State
  • document prepared to inform a decision by an agency about potential road routes, where disclosure of all potential routes, including those that are subsequently rejected, could have a negative impact on property values or cause community concern

(2) If the deliberative processes mentioned in subsection (1) include public consultation, subsection (1) applies only until the public consultation starts.

(3) However, subsection (1) does not apply for information to the extent it consists of—

(a) information that appears in an agency's policy document; or

(b) factual or statistical information; or

(c) expert opinion or analysis (other than expert opinion or analysis commissioned in the course of, or for, the deliberative processes mentioned in subsection (1)) by a person recognised as an expert in the field of knowledge to which the opinion or analysis relates.

(4) Also, subsection (1) does not apply for information if it consists of—

(a) a report of a body or organisation—

(i) established within an agency; and

(ii) prescribed under a regulation; or

(b) the record of, as a formal statement of the reasons for, a final decision, order or ruling given in the exercise of—

(i) a power; or

(ii) an adjudicative function; or

(iii) a statutory function; or

(iv) the administration of a publicly funded scheme.