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An agency or minister has 30 days to make a decision on your FOI request. However, this period may be extended:
- to consult a third party
- with your agreement
- to process a complex or large FOI request
- to complete an FOI request after the time runs out
Extension to consult a third party
If the agency or minister handling your FOI request needs to consult a third party, the period they have to make a decision on your FOI request is extended by 30 days. The agency or minister will let you know in writing their revised deadline for making a decision.
This happens in the following situations.
If the document you requested has another individual’s personal or business information, this information may be exempt or conditionally exempt under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). So, the agency or minister must give this individual a reasonable opportunity to make a submission that the document is exempt from disclosure.
Likewise, if the document you requested has an organisation’s business information, the agency or minister must give the organisation a reasonable opportunity to make a submission that the document is exempt from disclosure.
Also, if the document you requested has information that may affect federal and state government relations or relations with a foreign government, the agency or minister must give the affected governments the opportunity to make submissions that the document is exempt from disclosure.
Extension with your agreement
An agency or minister may ask you for an extension of time of up to 30 days. They may ask for it either as a continuous period of 30 days or a series of shorter periods no more than a total of 30 days. You need to give your agreement to this type of extension to the agency or minister in writing. However, if you don’t agree, the agency or minister can still ask us for an extension.
Even if you agree to an extension, the agency or minister may further extend the time they have to make a decision. If you’re concerned about further extensions happening, discuss this with the agency or minister before you agree to an extension.
Extension to process a complex or large FOI request
If your FOI request is complex or too large to make a decision within 30 days, the agency or minister may ask us for an extension. They must let us know, in writing, why the FOI request is complex or too large to process in 30 days, and explain what work has and hasn’t been done on it.
When deciding whether to grant the agency or minister an extension, we take into account:
- the reasons the agency or minister applied for the extension
- if you’ve already agree to an extension
- the work that stills needs to be done to complete the request
Extension to complete a FOI request after the time runs out
If the time an agency or minister has to complete a FOI request runs out (30 days plus any other extensions), they may still apply to us for an extension to complete an FOI request. In this situation, we can only give one extension.
If the time for completing your FOI request has run out, the agency or minister can’t charge you for access to the requested document(s) — even if we’ve granted them one final extension.
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