Anyone can obtain access to any document held by a federal government department or agency unless the agency, or the document or part of the document, is exempted by the legislation. There is under federal law known as the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Commonwealth).
There are some changes in the State laws. In 2009, New South Wales repealed its Freedom of Information Act 1989 and replaced it with the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 NSW (known as GIPA). It provides for a similar right of access to information held by state departments, state authorities, local councils and ministers.
How to apply
Requests for access to documents must be in writing and include information that enables the agency to identify the documents sought. Most agencies have their own printed or online forms for you to complete. Agencies must deal with requests under a time limit of 20 working days from receipt.
Denial or deferral of access
An agency can deny you access to the documents if there is an overriding public interest not to disclose the documents. But a person who is not satisfied with a decision about access can seek an internal review by more senior offices in the agency; or an external review by the Information Commissioner or NSW Civil and Administrative Tribuna (NCAT).
An application for internal review must be made within 20 working days although the agency can agree to conduct an internal review out of time.