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Activity 6 Evidence to the AAT and the Australian Information Commissioner

About evidence to the AAT and the Australian Information Commissioner

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 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.

Performance summary

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

Performance criteria: timeliness of evidence provided to the AAT and Information Commissioner, when requested.

Target: evidence provided by the date requested or agreed

Source: Portfolio Budget Statements 2016-17, p.234; Corporate Plan 2016-20

There were no quantitative performance measures identified in the OIGIS Corporate Plan 2016–20 that were directly applicable to the evidence we provided to the AAT and the Information Commissioner.

During the reporting period the Inspector-General was called on once by the 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 the new case referred to the Inspector-General by the Information Commissioner, the IGIS decided after taking into account her functions under the IGIS Act that the matter fell outside of her area of expertise and, on that basis, declined to give evidence. 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 Information Commissioner and the AAT is similar to previous reporting periods.

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