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Activity 6: Evidence to the AAT and the Australian Information Commissioner

Providing evidence to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Australian Information Commissioner as required

Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) sets out various exemptions to the requirement for government agencies to provide documents. One of the exemptions applies to documents affecting national security, defence or international relations. Before deciding that a document is not exempt under this provision, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and the Australian Information Commissioner are required to seek evidence from the IGIS. There are equivalent provisions in the Archives Act 1983 for the AAT. The IGIS is not required to give evidence if, in the Inspector- General's opinion, she is not appropriately qualified to do so.

Quantitative performance measures

There were no quantitative performance measures identified in the OIGIS Corporate Plan 2015–19 that were directly applicable to the evidence we provided to the AAT and the Australian Information Commissioner.

During the reporting period the Inspector-General was called on twice by the Australian Information Commissioner to give evidence in an FOI matter, and responded to one request carried over from the previous year. The IGIS was notified by the AAT of one new case where the IGIS may be requested to give evidence.

Discussion

In one new case referred to the Inspector-General by the Australian Information Commissioner, the IGIS decided after taking into account the functions under the IGIS Act that the matter fell outside of her area of expertise and, on that basis, declined to give evidence. The other new request from the Australian Information Commissioner was outstanding at the end of the reporting period. In another case which was carried over from the previous year, the former Inspector-General provided evidence on one aspect of the claim being made by the Commonwealth.

Although the Inspector-General was notified by the AAT of one new case where the IGIS may be requested to give evidence, at the end of the reporting period the IGIS had not been called to give evidence in that case.

The number of cases referred to the IGIS by the Australian Information Commissioner and the AAT is similar to previous reporting periods.