Freedom of Information
The Official Secretary is the principal decision maker under section 23 of the FOI Act in respect of requests for access.
The FOI Act applies to the Office because it is a body established for a public purpose by an enactment and, therefore, is a “prescribed authority” as defined in section 4. However, Section 6A of the FOI Act provides:
6A Official Secretary to the Governor-General
(1) This Act does not apply to any request for access to a document of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General unless the document relates to matters of an administrative nature.
(2) For the purposes of this Act, a document in the possession of a person employed under section 13 of the Governor-General Act 1974 that is in his or her possession by reason of his or her employment under that section shall be taken to be in possession of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General.
The Act thus has a restricted application to the Office, being relevant only in respect of requests for access to documents that relate to “matters of an administrative nature”. Implicitly, the Act does not apply to requests for access to documents that relate to the Governor-General’s discharge of official functions conferred by the Constitution or an enactment.
A summary of a judgement by the High Court of Australia on an FOI decision under section 6A of the FOI Act can be accessed: http://www.hcourt.gov.au/assets/publications/judgment-summaries/2013/hca52-2013-12-06.pdf
People seeking access to documents relating to “matters of an administrative nature” in the possession of the Official Secretary should apply either by email to:
FOIcontactofficer@gg.gov.au OR in writing to:
The Official Secretary to the Governor-General
Government House Canberra ACT 2600
The Office’s policy on levying charges under FOI regulations is that, where applicable, charges should be imposed for processing FOI requests. However, charges may be reduced or not imposed, if the Official Secretary is satisfied that a relevant reason to do so exists. If access is approved, the Official Secretary will provide copies of documents after the Office receives payment of any charges that apply.
The Office’s Disclosure Log can be accessed here.