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Appendix 2 - Freedom of Information

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In accordance with section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act), this appendix contains information about FOI procedures and access to departmental documents. Information is provided also about access to documents of an archival nature, in accordance with the Archives Act 1983 (the Archives Act), the Archives Regulations and the Royal Commissions Act 1902.

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FOI procedures and initial contact points

Applicants seeking access under the FOI Act to documents in the possession of the department should forward a $30 application fee and apply in writing to:

The FOI Coordinator
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
3-5 National Circuit
Barton  ACT  2600

Requests may also be lodged via email to

The FOI Coordinator is available between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm Monday to Friday and can be contacted by telephone on (02) 6271 5849 or by fax on (02) 6271 5776. Information about lodging requests is also available from the department’s website at <>.

If applicants are dissatisfied with a decision made under the FOI Act, they may apply to the Secretary of the department seeking an internal review, which is subject to a $40 application fee. Once the application fee is received, an officer of the department who is at least one level above that of the initial decision maker will conduct the review.

The department, if it approves access, will provide copies of documents after it has received payment of any charges which apply. Alternatively, applicants may arrange to inspect documents at the department’s Barton office if the documents lend themselves to this form of access.

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Table 12   Categories of documents held by the department
Cabinet documents These documents relate to the business of the Cabinet and include:
  • documents that have been submitted to the Cabinet
  • official records of the Cabinet.
Executive Council documents These documents relate to the business of the Executive Council and include:
  • documents that have been submitted to the Executive Council
  • official records of the Executive Council.
Documents of royal commissions and major inquiries The department is official custodian for the records of completed royal commissions and a number of major government inquiries.
Representations to the Prime Minister The Prime Minister receives a large number of written representations each year. They concern every aspect of government policy and administration.
Working files The department holds files dealing with policy and administration in all areas in which the Australian Government is involved. The documents in these files include correspondence, analysis and policy advice by departmental staff, comments on Cabinet submissions and drafts of these and other documents.
Documents on internal departmental administration These documents include personnel records, organisation and staffing records, financial and expenditure records, and internal operating documentation such as office procedures, instructions and indexes.
Programme documents The department holds documents relating to grants, which it provides to various organisations and individuals under the programmes it administers.
Documents open to public access subject to a fee or charge The department holds no documents in this category.
Documents available for access or purchase subject to a fee or other charge The department holds no documents in this category.
Documents customarily available free of charge upon request The department holds and makes available on request (free of charge) a range of documents including:
  • research documents
  • policy statements
  • executive summaries
  • Council of Australian Governments communiqués
  • the department’s information technology strategic plan.
The department’s annual report and selected other documents relating to the department are available through the internet at <>.

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Access to archival records

Public access to archival records

Under section 40 of the Archives Act, members of the public may apply to the National Archives of Australia (NAA) for access to records in the current open period, that is, records which are more than 30 years old. Generally, departmental documents in the custody of the NAA are not subject to the FOI Act. People seeking access to the archival records of this department should make their requests directly to the NAA.

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Special access provisions of the Archives Act

Subsection 56(2) of the Archives Act and Archives Regulation 9 provide that Commonwealth records, not otherwise available for public access under the Archives Act, may be made available to a person in accordance with arrangements approved by the Prime Minister.

Under the arrangements, approved in December 1988, special access may be available to:

  • former Governors-General, former ministers and former senior officials who wish to ‘refresh their memories’ of records which they personally dealt with while in office
  • authorised biographers of those above
  • people connected with the Government of the Commonwealth who have deposited their personal records in the custody of the NAA
  • people preparing for publication major works that are considered to be of national importance.

People seeking special access to the records of this department should contact the department at the address given above for the FOI Coordinator.

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Royal commission records

Because of the Prime Minister’s responsibility for the Royal Commissions Act 1902, the department exercises administrative control of the records of most completed royal commissions. It therefore handles requests by other Australian Government agencies, state government bodies and members of the public for access to closed period and exempt records. People seeking access to such records should contact the department at the address given above for the FOI Coordinator. Requests for access to royal commission records more than 30 years old should be directed to the NAA.

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Archival Cabinet documents

In January 2003 the department released Cabinet records from 1972 and Cabinet notebooks from 1952 to the public through the NAA. Digital images of the notebook pages and transcripts prepared by the NAA can be viewed on its website at <>.


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