Access to information held by the NSW Scientific Committee
The Government Information (Public Access) (GIPA) Act commenced on 1st July 2010. The objects of the Act are to give members of the public an enforceable right to access government information and to encourage the proactive public release of information. Access to government information is restricted only where there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.
How do I get access to information from the Scientific Commitee?
The Scientific Committee will decide whether the information you want:
is open access, or 'mandatory release' information that is readily available. If it is, we can tell you where and how you can get the information.
- should be made available as part of a 'proactive release' of information.
- can be disclosed to you through 'informal release', for example where no third party personal information is involved.
requires a formal access application, for example because consultation with a third party is required.
What information is already publicly available?
The Scientific Committee's uses the listing criteria in the Threatened Species Conservation Regulation 2002 to determine whether a species, population, ecological community or key threatening process is eligible to be listed in the Schedules of the Threatened Species Conservation Act. Preliminary Determinations are placed on public exhibition for comment. The Preliminary Determinations and Final Determinations contain the reasons for listing and are publicly available.
The Scientific Committee has reviewed the threat status of various species to determine whether they are eligible for listing in the Schedules of the Act and, if already listed, whether they are listed at the appropriate threat status. The publications arising from these reviews are publicly available.
The Scientific Committee will be reviewing other information for pro-active public release on this website.
How to seek informal access to other information
The Scientific Committee has other information, documents and correspondence relating to the operation of the Committee and to the assessment of nominations. If there is no requirement to consult with other people and there is no overriding public interest against disclosure then the information may be able to be accessed without having to lodge a formal application for access. An example of this might be where access is sought to one or a few specific reports or documents which contain only factual information. There are no review or appeal rights on the Committee's decision regarding whether to provide access to the documents in response to an informal request.
The Committee may also decide that it cannot provide access to the information under an informal request. An example of this may be where consultation with another person is required or access is sought to a large volume of documents.
How long does it take to get access to the information?
Where access is sought on an informal basis the time frame for providing access will depend on the amount of information sought both in number of documents requested and the size of individual reports which will require review. The Committee's Executive Officer will discuss the timeframe to process the request with the applicant.
How to lodge a formal application for access to documents under the GIPA Act?
1. Contact the Committee's Executive Officer on 02 9585 6940 to determine if the Committee holds the information you are seeking
2. Complete the GIPA application form (GIPAAccessformJune2010.pdf, 54KB). Valid applications must be writing and comply with the following requirements:
Enclose the $30 application fee by cheque or money order made out to the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water. Please do not send cash unless you are hand delivering the application.
- State that it is an access application made under the GIPA Act.
- Provide an Australian postal address.
Give as much information as possible to identify information (The Committee's Executive Officer can help you with this if necessary.)
3. Post your application to:Suzanne ChateNSW Scientific CommitteePO Box 1967HURSTVILLE BC NSW 1481
or hand deliver it to 43 Bridge Street, Hurstville NSW. As there is no reception desk in this building please call 02 9585 6940 to ensure someone is available to receive your application.
You can pay the application fee by cash or credit card as well as cheque or money order if delivering it personally.
How is a formal application processed and how long does it take?
The Scientific Committee will locate and review the information to determine what information may be able to be released. The Committee will also determine if there is any information that requires consultation with other people. Once advice has been received (where consultation is required) the Committee will decide if the information can be released.
The Scientific Committee must generally disclose information in response to a valid formal access application for information that is held by the Committee and not otherwise available you. The Scientific Committee can refuse a request for information if there is an overriding public interest against disclosure or if searching for the requested information would require unreasonable and substantial diversion of the Committee's resources.
In making its decision the Committee can take into account any evidence or information that you provide concerning the personal factors of the application that you consider are relevant to the determination of whether there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information.
The Scientific Committee will give you notice of its decision regarding access to the documents within 20 working days, or if consultation with other people is required we will advise you of the decision within 30 working days.
If the Committee is not able to meet these timeframes we may seek your agreement to extending the period. An example of where this may be necessary is where access is sought to a large volume of information.
If the Scientific Committee does not give notice of the decision within the statutory or agreed timeframe the application for access it is deemed to have been refused. Your application will continue to be processed, but your application fee will be refunded and you may seek a review of this deemed refusal. This will not apply if an extension of time has been agreed or payment of an advance deposit is pending.
How much does it cost to access information with a formal application?
There is a $30.00 application fee and there may be an additional charge of $30.00 per hour processing charge. If you are seeking access to personal information about yourself there is no processing charge for the first 20 hours.
The processing charge may be discounted by 50% where an applicant provides information and supporting documentation demonstrating that they are suffering financial hardship or where they can demonstrate the information is of special benefit to the public generally.
The Scientific Committee may also seek an advance deposit of up to 50% of the estimated processing charge. An advance deposit may be sought, for example, where a large volume of information is sought and/or significant resources are required to process an application. You will have at least four weeks in which to pay the advance deposit and the period within which the application is required to be decided stops running until the advance deposit is received by the Committee.
What are the Review and Appeal rights under the GIPA Act?
If you are unhappy with the Committee's decision you have a right to request a review of a decision regarding the release of information if you disagree with any of the following decisions as set out under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act):
- a decision that an application is not a valid access application.
- a decision to transfer an access application to another agency, as an agency-initiated transfer.
- a decision to refuse to deal with an access application (including such a decision that is deemed to have been made).
- a decision to provide access or to refuse to provide access to information in response to an access application.
- a decision that government information is not held by the Scientific Committee.
- a decision that information applied for is already available to the applicant.
- a decision to refuse to confirm or deny that information is held by the Scientific Committee.
- a decision to defer the provision of access to information in response to an access application.
- a decision to provide access to information in a particular way in response to an access application (or a decision not to provide access in the way requested by the applicant).
- a decision to impose a processing charge or to require an advance deposit.
- a decision to refuse a reduction in a processing charge.
- a decision to refuse to deal further with an access application because an applicant has failed to pay an advance deposit within the time required for payment.
a decision to include information in a disclosure log despite an objection by the access applicant (or a decision that the access applicant was not entitled to object).
You generally have three options to have a decision reviewed:
1. Internal review
You have 20 working days after the notice of a decision has been posted to you to ask for an internal review. The review must be carried out by a more senior officer than the person who made the original decision. The review decision must be made as if it was a fresh application.
There is a $40 fee for an internal review application (GIPAInternalReviewformJune2010.pdf, 34KB) except if the decision is 'deemed refusal' because the Scientific Committee did not process your application in time. In this case, you cannot be charged any review fee.
The Scientific Committee must acknowledge your application within five working days of receiving it. The Scientific Committee must decide the internal review within 15 working days (this can be extended by 10 days if the Scientific Committee has to consult with a third party, or by agreement with you).
2. External review by the Information Commissioner
If you disagree with any of the decisions listed above, you can ask for a review by the Information Commissioner. If you are the person applying for access to information, you do not have to have an internal review of the decision before asking the Information Commissioner to review it. If you are not the access applicant, you must seek an internal review before applying for review by the Information Commissioner. You have eight weeks from being notified of the decision to ask for a review by the Information Commissioner. On reviewing the decision, the Information Commissioner can make recommendations about the decision to the Scientific Committee.
Note: You cannot ask the Information Commissioner to review a decision that has already been reviewed by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
3. External review by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal
If you disagree with any of the decisions listed above, you can ask for a review by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT). You do not have to have the decision reviewed internally, or by the Information Commissioner before applying for review by the ADT. You have up to eight weeks from being notified of the decision to apply to the ADT for review. However, if you have applied for review by the Information Commissioner, you have four weeks from being notified of the Information Commissioner's review outcome to apply to the ADT.
Will other people have access to the information released under a formal application?
If you receive information after making a formal application, and the Committee believes that information may of interest to other members of the public, the Committee ordinarily records it on the 'disclosure log' which is made available on the Committee's website.
The disclosure log describes the information that was provided to the applicant and, if it is available to other members of the public, how they can access it.
You can object to information being included in the disclosure log if it includes personal information about you or about a deceased person that you personally represent; the information concerns your business, commercial, professional, or financial interests or research undertaken
Further information regarding the GIPA Act can also be found at the Office of the Information Commissioner's website.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011