Informal request for access to information guidelines
Section 8 Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009
The Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) details the obligations of agencies such as Council to provide access to certain information that it holds. The Act provides for Council to release information publicly on its website (called open access information); in response to an informal request for access or in response to a formal application for access.
Open access information
Council’s Publication Guide outlines the type of information that is considered open access information that you may receive free of charge. In the first instance, check Council’s website to find the information you require. If the information you require is not on the website, you are able to access that information by completing the relevant form and submitting it by hand, email or mail.
Access to other information
Council also holds a lot of information that is not listed in the Publication Guide as open access information. The release of this information is generally restricted due to considerations such as commercial confidence, legal privilege, security concerns and protection of privacy. You can apply for access to this information through a Formal Access Application(PDF, 133KB) . This process attracts a mandatory application fee and the release of information is not guaranteed. Please read the guidelines “Formal request for access to information guidelines” prior to making the decision to apply through that process. If you apply informally for this type of information, you will be contacted by one of Council’s Right to Information officers who will explain the reasons as to why a formal application will be needed.
Making an Informal Request for access to information
There are different kinds of applications that you can make, depending on the information that you require. For example, you may apply for certain information held by Council in relation to Development Applications. Certain restrictions apply to the type of information that can be made available, for example there may be copyright restrictions. .
Although there is no fee to lodge an application and have it assessed, there may be a processing fee. For example, if the request involves a large volume of records, if archived records need to be accessed (e.g. information relating to building or development applications prior to 2009), or if hard copies are requested. See Council’s adopted schedule of fees and charges which is available on the website at www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/fees.
To prevent any delay in responding to your request it is important that you read all the information in this guideline prior to applying for access to information.
Making a request for information relating to development applications
Are you buying or selling a house?
If you are buying or selling a house, we recommend that you obtain a Building Certificate by completing a Building information certificate application rather than relying on copies of old consents. The Development Consent will only specify the conditions that have been approved, and is no guarantee that the structure was built to those specifications. Therefore, a Development Consent cannot guarantee current compliance.
Building Certificates require an application fee (please refer to Council’s adopted fees and charges available at www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/fees. Building Certificates must be submitted with a Surveyor’s report, will require inspection of the property by a Council officer and may take up to ten working days to complete. An approved Building Certificate guarantees that Council will take no action to require demolition or major structural alterations to any existing buildings on the property for the next 7 years. Council is the only authority that can issue a Building Certificate.
The impact of Copyright
Under the Copyright Act, Council is unable to provide reproductions or copies of copyright protected documents, however, you can view these documents at Council. In general, copyright protected documents may include plans, specifications and consultant’s reports. Documents protected by copyright may be released if the applicant obtains permission from the copyright holder.
How long will it take to access the information?
Council will respond to your request for access to information within twenty (20) working days. Where possible, the information will be made available to you as soon as practical, however if archived file retrieval is required an extension of time may be necessary. If certain restrictions apply to the information you have requested, you will be contacted and an appointment will be made for a suitable time for you to come in to Council and view the information that is available.
Making an Informal request to access information
Where can I get further information?
Further information can be obtained from the Office of the Information Commissioner NSW
Go to: www.ipc.nsw.gov.au
Mail: GPO Box 7011 Sydney NSW 2001
Visit: Level 11, 1 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW
Call: 1800 472 679 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).
NOTE: If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can call the OIC through the National Relay Service (NRS) on 133 677 or if you want to talk to us with the assistance of an interpreter, you can call us through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450. NRS and TIS are free services.