Guide to changes to the Ombudsmen Act and official information legislation Loading Comments…
April 1, 2015
Some changes have been made to the Ombudsmen Act (OA) and official information legislation as part of an omnibus Statutes Amendment Act.
Read our quick reference guide to the changes, which came into effect on 26 March 2015.
The key change to the OA is to give the Ombudsman the ability to refuse to investigate a complaint if, after preliminary inquiries and having regard to all the circumstances of the case, they consider an investigation is unnecessary.
The key changes to the official information legislation include:
- Explicit recognition that requests can be made and communicated in any way, including orally.
- Clarification that agencies can ask for oral requests to be put in writing if that is reasonably necessary (if the requester declines, or is unable to do so, the agency must record its understanding of the request and provide that to the requester).
- Confirmation that partial transfers of requests can be made.
- Clarification around when an amended or revised request is a new request that replaces the original one for the purpose of calculating the maximum statutory timeframe for response.
- Confirmation that information may be released in electronic form or by electronic means (subject to the requester’s preference).
- Clarification that agencies must make reasonable efforts to locate documents before refusing a request on the basis that they do not exist or cannot be found.
- A new function under the official information legislation for the Ombudsman to investigate complaints that an agency has failed to make and communicate its decision on a request as soon as reasonably practicable.
For full details of the amendments see the Ombudsmen Amendment Act 2015, the Official Information Amendment Act 2015, and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Amendment Act 2015.