This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'NBN Rollout Statistics as at 31st March 2013'.










FOI fact sheet 12
Freedom of information – Your review rights
July 2012
If you disagree with the decision of an Australian Government agency or minister under the Freedom of 
Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act), you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. You may want to seek 
review if you sought certain documents and were not given full access, if someone is to be granted access 
to information that is about you, if the agency has informed you that it will impose a charge for processing 
your request or if your application to have your personal information amended was not accepted. There 
are two ways you can ask for review of a decision: internal review by the agency, and external review by the 
Australian Information Commissioner.
Internal review
or would not address your concerns (for example, 
If an agency makes an FOI decision that you 
if you were not consulted about a document 
disagree with, you can ask the agency to review 
that contains your personal information before it 
its decision. The review will be carried out by a 
was released). For more information see FOI fact 
different agency officer, usually someone at a more 
sheet 13 – Freedom of information: How to make a 
senior level. There is no charge for internal review.
complaint.
You must apply within 30 days of being notified 
Do I have to go through the agency’s internal 
of the decision, unless the agency extended the 
review process first?
application time. You should contact the agency if 
you wish to seek an extension. The agency must 
No. You may apply directly to the Information 
make a review decision within 30 days. If it does 
Commissioner. However, going through the 
not do so, its original decision is considered to be 
agency’s internal review process gives the agency 
affirmed.
the opportunity to reconsider its initial decision, 
and your needs may be met more quickly without 
Internal review is not available if a minister or 
undergoing an external review process.
the chief officer of the agency made the decision 
personally.
Do I have to pay?
No. The Information Commissioner’s review is free.
Review by the Information Commissioner
The Information Commissioner is an independent 
How do I apply?
office holder who can review the decisions of 
You must apply in writing and you can lodge your 
agencies and ministers under the FOI Act.
application in one of the following ways:
Is a review the same as a complaint?
online:  www.oaic.gov.au
No. The Information Commissioner also investigates 
post:  
GPO Box 2999, Canberra ACT 2601
complaints about agency actions under the FOI 
fax:  
+61 2 9284 9666
Act. However, if you are complaining that an 
email:  [email address]
agency decision is wrong, it will be treated as an 
in person:  Level 8, Piccadilly Tower 
application for a review. Your matter will be treated 
 
133 Castlereagh Street 
as a complaint when a review would not be practical 
 
Sydney NSW
FOI fact sheet 12 – Freedom of information: Your review rights
1


An application form is available on the website at 
Can I withdraw my application?
www.oaic.gov.au. Your application should include 
Yes. An application can be withdrawn at any time 
a copy of the notice of the decision that you 
before the Information Commissioner makes a 
are objecting to (if one was provided), and your 
decision.
contact details. You should also set out why you are 
objecting to the decision.
What happens in the review process?
Can I get help in completing the application?
The review process is designed to be as informal 
as possible. The Information Commissioner may 
Yes. The Information Commissioner’s staff are 
contact you or any of the other parties to clarify 
available to help you with your application if 
matters and seek more information. The Information 
anything is unclear.
Commissioner may also ask the agency or minister 
to provide reasons for their decision if the reasons 
When do I have to apply?
given were inadequate.
If you are objecting to a decision to refuse access 
Most reviews will be made on the basis of the 
to documents, impose a charge or refuse to amend 
submissions and papers provided by the parties. 
a document, you must apply to the Information 
Sometimes the Information Commissioner may 
Commissioner within 60 days of being given notice 
decide to hold a hearing if one of the parties 
of the decision. If you are objecting to a decision 
applies. Parties may participate in a hearing by 
to grant access to another person, you must apply 
telephone. If confidential matters are raised, the 
within 30 days of being notified of that decision.
hearing may be held partly or wholly in private.
You can ask the Information Commissioner for an 
extension of time to apply, and this may be granted 
Will there be other parties to the review?
if the Information Commissioner considers it is 
There may be. The Information Commissioner 
reasonable in the circumstances.
can join other parties who are affected by the 
application. For example, if you are objecting to 
Who will conduct the review?
someone else being granted access to information 
Staff of the Information Commissioner will conduct 
that concerns you, that person may be joined in the 
the review. Only the Information Commissioner, the 
review.
FOI Commissioner or the Privacy Commissioner can 
make a decision at the end of the review.
Can someone else represent me?
Yes, including a lawyer. However, the Information 
Does the Information Commissioner have to 
Commissioner prefers the process to be as informal 
review my matter?
and cost-effective as possible and does not 
No. The Information Commissioner may decide 
encourage legal representation.
not to review an application that is frivolous, 
misconceived or lacking in substance, or if you fail to 
Will the Information Commissioner look at all 
cooperate with the process or cannot be contacted 
documents, including ones that are claimed to be 
after reasonable attempts. You cannot appeal 
exempt?
against that decision.
Yes. The Information Commissioner’s review is a 
Alternatively the Information Commissioner may 
fresh decision, so all the relevant material must be 
decide that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal 
examined, including documents that the agency or 
(AAT) would be better placed to review the matter, 
minister has declined to release. Developments that 
and if so, will advise you of the procedure for 
have occurred since the original decision may also 
applying to the AAT. This will not be common.
be considered.
FOI fact sheet 12 – Freedom of information: Your review rights


What powers does the Information Commissioner 
What can I do if I disagree with the Information 
have?
Commissioner’s review decision?
While the review process is designed to be informal, 
You can appeal to the AAT. The Information 
the Information Commissioner has formal powers to 
Commissioner will not be a party to those 
require anyone to produce information or documents,  proceedings. There is a fee for lodging an AAT 
to compel anyone to attend to answer questions and 
application, although there are exemptions for 
to take an oath or affirmation that their answers will 
health care and pension concession card holders, 
be true.
and the AAT can waive the fee on financial hardship 
grounds. For further information see 
An agency or minister can also be ordered to 
www.aat.gov.au/FormsAndFees/Fees.htm.
undertake further searches for documents.
What decisions can the Information Commissioner 
FOI applications made before 1 November 
make?
2010
After reviewing a decision, the Information 
The Information Commissioner can only review an 
Commissioner must do one of three things:
agency’s or minister’s FOI decision if you made your 
FOI request on or after 1 November 2010. If you 
•  set the decision aside and make a fresh decision 
made your FOI request before 1 November, even if 
•  affirm the decision, or 
the decision was made after that date, the review 
•  vary the decision. 
process is different.
The Information Commissioner will give reasons for 
You must first ask the agency for internal review of 
the decision.
the decision. You may then appeal to the AAT if you 
are not satisfied with the decision.
Will the decision be made public?
The information provided in this fact sheet is of a 
Yes. The Information Commissioner will publish 
general nature. It is not a substitute for legal advice.
decisions on the website. Exempt material (that is, 
material that is not released) will not be included. 
Nor will the name of the review applicant, unless 
For further information
that person requests otherwise or there is a special 
telephone: 1300 363 992  
reason to publish it.
email: [email address]  
write: GPO Box 2999, Canberra ACT 2601 
or visit our website awww.oaic.gov.au
FOI fact sheet 12 – Freedom of information: Your review rights