Info Requests Cost $24.9 Million in 2005/06

Info requests cost $24.9m in 2005/06

January 12, 2007 – 4:24PM
The Age (Melbourne)

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs received more calls from the public trying to access information than any other agency in 2005/06, a government report showed.

The annual report of the Freedom of Information Act 1986 showed that government agencies received a total 41,430 requests in 2005/06, of which 94 per cent were granted.

The processing of these requests cost the government $24.9 million at an average of $601 per request.

Only two per cent of the total was recovered in fees and charges.

The immigration department received 14,627 requests, followed by Centrelink with 13,817 and the Department of Veterans' Affairs at 8,330.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said in releasing the report that the Act was achieving its intended purpose.

“As far as possible, it gives the Australian community access to information held by the Australian government and facilitates access to personal information.”

Eighty-five per cent of requests were for personal information about the applicant and other people.

The remaining 15 per cent were for documents containing other information, such as documents concerning policy development and government decision making.

The number of requests in 2005/06 compared with 39,265 in 2004/05 and 42,627 in 2003/04.

Mr Ruddock said fees and charges had not increased since November 1986 when Labor was in government.

“This demonstrates the government's strong commitment to openness and accountability.”