Chapter 9: Requests and resources

Current solutions

The OIA, as amended in 2003, already contains a number of ways of dealing with problematic requests. In summary they are:

(a)requests must be specified with “due particularity”;264

(b)it is the duty of an agency to give reasonable assistance to a person to make a request in a manner that is in accordance with the Act;265

(c)before a request is refused, the agency should consider whether consulting with the requester would be of assistance;266

(d)if the request is for a large quantity of information, the agency may extend the 20 working day time limit;267

(e)an agency may charge for the supply of official information;268

(f)a request may be refused if the information requested cannot be made available without substantial collation or research;269

(g)a request may be refused if it is frivolous or vexatious;270

(h)it is a ground for withholding if withholding is necessary to prevent the disclosure or use of official information for improper gain or improper advantage.271

A good deal can be accomplished now under these existing provisions. Our clear impression is that many agencies are reluctant to use them for fear of being accused of acting contrary to the spirit of the Act. There is room for more rigorous application of the law as it currently stands.

In our issues paper we discussed these provisions, and proposed certain amendments to either clarify or augment them. We received many helpful submissions on those proposals. Having carefully read the submissions and considered the arguments put forward in them, we have in some instances moved from the position we took in the issues paper.

OIA, s 12(2); LGOIMA, s 10(2).

OIA, s 13; LGOIMA, s 11.

OIA, s 18B; LGOIMA, s 17B.

OIA, s 15A; LGOIMA, s 14.

OIA, s 15(1A); LGOIMA, s 13(1A).

OIA, s 18(f); LGOIMA, s 17(f).

OIA, s 18(k); LGOIMA, s 17(h).

OIA, s 9(2)(k); LGOIMA, s7(2)(j).