Our reference: RQ21/00117
Agency reference: 67660
Sent by email: email@example.com
Extension of time under s 15AC
On 12 January 2021, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (the
Department) advised this office that it had not made a decision on your FOI request of
3 December 2020 within the statutory period provided by the Freedom of Information Act
(Cth) (the FOI Act). Consequently, the FOI Act deems that the Department has refused
However, s 15AC of the FOI Act allows the Information Commissioner to extend the
processing time for an FOI request where the initial decision period has ended, and the
agency or Minister has not provided the applicant with notice of a decision. The Department
has applied for further time to finalise your request.
The Department attempted to obtain an agreement under s 15AA of the FOI Act for an
extension of time from you. The Department did not receive a response from you.
As a delegate of the Information Commissioner, I am authorised to make decisions on
applications for extensions of time under s 15AC(5) of the FOI Act.
I have decided to grant the Department further time of 15 days to 17 January 2021
process your request. My reasons and considerations follow:
• on 3 December 2020, the Department received your request
• on 7 December 2020, the decision maker was established and search minute sent
with a response due 14 December 2020
• on 15 December 2020, a follow up was sent, requesting a response 16 December 2020
• on 16 December 2020, the Department acknowledged receipt of your request
1300 363 992
T +61 2 9284 9686
GPO Box 5218
F +61 2 9284 9666
Sydney NSW 2001
ABN 85 249 230 937
• on 6 January 2021, the Department notified you of the deemed refusal and advised
its intention to issue a decision as soon as practicable
• on 12 January 2021, the draft decision progressed to consideration with the decision
• the Department advised that due to the Christmas shutdown period, there was
limited time to adequately review over 200 pages with subject matter experts in the
line area, and
• additional time is required as the Department is in the final stages of processing your
request and to assist the newly appointed decision maker be adequately briefed in
order to consider the documents and applicable exemptions.
This extension of time under s 15AC of the FOI Act means that the deemed refusal is taken
never to have applied if the Department makes a decision on your request by 17 January
Such an extension can only be granted once and cannot be extended by a variation.
I note that the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 2019
provide that if an applicant
is not notified of a decision on a request within the statutory time limit (including any
extension of time), the agency or minister cannot impose a charge for providing access, even
if the applicant was earlier notified that a charge was payable (regs 7(2), (3)). This extension
under s 15AC of the FOI Act does not mean that charges can be reimposed and any deposit
you have paid should be refunded.
If you have any questions, please contact me on (02) 9284 9847 or via email
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please quote OAIC reference number at the top of this email in
Assistant Review and Investigation Advisor
Freedom of Information
14 January 2021
If you disagree with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) decision
you can apply to the Federal Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court for a review of a
decision of the Information Commissioner if you think that a decision by the Information
Commissioner to grant an extension of time is not legally correct. You can make this
application under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977
The Court will not review the merits of your case but it may refer the matter back to the
Information Commissioner for further consideration if it finds the decision was wrong in law
or the Information Commissioner’s powers were not exercised properly.
An application for review must be made to the Court within 28 days of the OAIC sending the
decision to you. You may wish to seek legal advice as the process can involve fees and costs.
Please contact the Federal Court registry in your state or territory for more information, or
visit the Federal Court website at http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/.
Further information about how applications to extend the timeframe to process an FOI
request are handled by the OAIC can be found published on our website:
For FOI applicants:
How to make an FOI request: Extensions of time
For agencies and ministers: Guidance and advice: Extension of time for processing
The OAIC has the power to investigate complaints about an agency’s actions under the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). This is a separate process from asking for an
Information Commissioner review following a decision made under the FOI Act. Complaints
usually focus on how an agency has handled your FOI request or complied with other
obligations under the FOI Act, rather than the decision itself.
In some cases, the Information Commissioner's investigation of a complaint may lead to the
agency addressing the issues that you have complained about. In other cases, the
Information Commissioner may make suggestions or recommendations that the agency
should implement. The Information Commissioner can only make non-binding
recommendations as a result of a complaint. You and the agency will be notified of the
outcome of the investigation.
FOI complaints to the OAIC must be made in writing. Our preference is for you to use the online FOI complaint form i
f at all possible.
Further information about how to make a complaint can be found published on our website: https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/reviews-and-complaints/make-an-foi-