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Factors favouring or against disclosure in the public interest

Factors Favouring Disclosure in the Public Interest

  1. FOI Act promotes disclosure
    1. inform the community of the Government's operations, including, in particular, the policies, rules, guidelines, practices and codes of conduct followed by the Government in its dealings with members of the community
    2. allow or assist inquiry into possible deficiencies in the conduct or administration of an agency or official
    3. reveal or substantiate that an agency or official has engaged in misconduct or negligent, improper or unlawful conduct
    4. reveal the reason for a government decision and any background or contextual information that informed the decision
    5. enhance the scrutiny of government decision making
  2. inform debate on a matter of public importance
  3. promote effective oversight of public expenditure
  4. allow a person to access his or her personal information
    1. the personal information of a child, where the applicant is the child's parent and disclosure of the information is reasonably considered to be in the child's best interests
    2. the personal information of a deceased individual where the applicant is a closefamily member (a close family member is generally a spouse or partner, adult child or parent of the deceased, or other person who was ordinarily a member of the person's household)
  5. contribute to the maintenance of peace and order
  6. contribute to the administration of justice generally, including procedural fairness
  7. contribute to the enforcement of the criminal law
  8. contribute to the administration of justice for a person
  9. advance the fair treatment of individuals and other entities in accordance with the law in their dealings with agencies
  10. reveal environmental or health risks of measures relating to public health and safety and contribute to the protection of the environment
  11. contribute to innovation and the facilitation of research.

Factors Against Disclosure in the Public Interest

Note: The conditional exemptions, except for the deliberative process (s.47C), contain public interests against disclosure in their harm tests.

Disclosure could reasonably be expected to:

  1. prejudice the protection of an individual's right to privacy
    1. the personal information is that of a child, where the applicant is the child's parent, and disclosure of the information is reasonably considered not to be in the child's best interests
    2. the personal information is that of a deceased individual where the applicant is a close family member (a close family member is generally a spouse or partner, adult child or parent of the deceased, or other person who was ordinarily a member of the person's household)
  2. prejudice the fair treatment of individuals and the information is about unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct or unlawful, negligent or improper conduct
  3. prejudice security, law enforcement, public health or public safety
  4. impede the administration of justice generally, including procedural fairness
  5. impede the administration of justice for an individual
  6. impede the protection of the environment
  7. impede the flow of information to the police or another law enforcement or regulatory agency
  8. prejudice an agency's ability to obtain confidential information
  9. prejudice an agency's ability to obtain similar information in the future
  10. prejudice the competitive commercial activities of an agency
  11. harm the interests of an individual or group of individuals
  12. prejudice the conduct of investigations, audits or reviews by the Ombudsman or Auditor-General
  13. prejudice the management function of an agency
  14. prejudice the effectiveness of testing or auditing procedures.

Irrelevant factors

The following factors must not be taken into account in deciding whether access to the document would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest:

  1. access to the document could result in embarrassment to the Commonwealth Government, or cause a loss of confidence in the Commonwealth Government;

  2. access to the document could result in any person misinterpreting or misunderstanding the document;
  3. the author of the document was (or is) of high seniority in the agency to which the request for access to the document was made;
  4. access to the document could result in confusion or unnecessary debate