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Department of the Environment and Heritage Annual Report 2003-04

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004
ISSN 1441 9335

Appendix 2 - Freedom of information

This report is presented in accordance with the requirements of section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

The Department received 35 applications pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 during the 2003-04 financial year. No applications were made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The Act extends to the Australian community the right to obtain access to information in the possession of the Australian Government.

Access is limited only by exemptions necessary for the protection of essential public interests and the private and business affairs of persons in respect of whom information is collected and held by departments and statutory authorities.

Section 8 of the Act requires agencies to make available information about their functions, organisation and operations. This information is contained in the body of this annual report.

Details of the categories of documents each agency maintains and the facilities for public access are also required under section 8 of the Act.

Categories of documents maintained by the Department

The Department holds a large range of documents, which are described in the general policy, specific and parliamentary categories set out below. In accordance with the Archives Act 1983 documents may have been transferred into archival custody or destroyed.

General policy

Administrative files, consultants' reports, memoranda of understanding, agreements, permits, licences, submissions, guidelines for programmes, grant documents, manuals, financial records, staffing records, instructions of the Secretary, legal documents, and tender evaluations.

Specific

Australian Antarctic Division records, committee records, and court documents and records.

Parliamentary

Briefing documents, Cabinet documents, ministerial submissions, policy advice, ministerial correspondence, explanatory memoranda to Acts, Ordinances and Regulations.

Arrangements for outside participation

In the formulation of policy by the Department and in the administration of legislation and schemes, the Department consults with members of the public and bodies outside the Australian Government's administration.

General participation is possible by making oral or written representations to the Minister or the Department or putting submissions to the various working groups on matters chaired by the Department.

The Antarctic Science Advisory Committee, which advises the Government on priority areas in Antarctic research, solicits research proposals from the scientific community within Australia and overseas, and provides funding and logistic support for approved scientific projects.

Formal arrangements under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981, Sea Installations Act 1987, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and the environmental impact assessment provisions of the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 provide for proposals to be examined publicly and for comments to be received.

Formal arrangements under the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands Environment Protection and Management Ordinance 1987 provide for public consultation during the development of management plans.

Formal arrangements under the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 provide for public consultation with respect to scientific research programmes and matters relating to the effects on the environment in the Alligator Rivers region of uranium mining operations.

Procedures for gaining access to information

Freedom of information matters within the Department are handled by the legal section in the Policy Coordination and Environment Protection Division. Contact details for the freedom of information officer are:

Phone: (02) 6274 1578
Fax: (02) 6274 1587
Email: foi_contact_officer@deh.gov.au

Written requests for access to documents should be addressed to:

The Freedom of Information Coordinator
Legal Section
Department of the Environment and Heritage
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

For enquiries specific to the Antarctic contact:

The Director
Australian Antarctic Division
Kingston Tas 7050

For a list of the Department's publications visit www.deh.gov.au/about/publications.

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