Right to Information
This year Queensland, along with the rest of Australia and the world, have and continue to face significant challenges. During crises we have seen the benefits of providing timely access to accurate and relevant information. This ultimately builds trust, unity, greater government openness and can lead to better decision-making. For this reason, the campaign’s tagline is Building trust through transparency.
Did you know Townsville City Council regularly releases information through several online portals including the Townsville Dashboards, Open Data, Administrative Access Arrangements, and this website? Council also encourages residents to participate and have their say on a range of projects and initiatives in our community. Residents’ feedback contributes to shaping our city, and guide Council on decision making and planning for the future.
Townsville City Council collects and stores personal and general information about the region, properties, our services, projects, community interests, libraries, even animals. Documents held by us include paper files, microfiche, print-outs, computer records, files, visual material, CCTV and audio recordings.
The Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (IP Act) recognises that there should be an increased flow of information in the government’s possession to the community and encourages government to make as much information available while maintaining the appropriate levels of privacy and confidentiality.
Townsville City Council aims to make it easy for the public to access our information, maximise the amount of corporate information that is publicly available and is committed to openness and transparency. Council promotes proactive release of information and encourages Council workers to actively support activities to make corporate information available to the public in an easy to use, efficient, self-service manner and in accordance with the RTI Act and IP Act.
Townsville City Council is committed to providing access to information in the Council’s possession or under the Council’s control unless on balance it is contrary to the public interest to provide that information.
Council routinely releases information through several portals including the Townsville Dashboards, Open Data, Administrative Access Arrangements and this website. Council encourages residents to explore these options prior to contacting us in relation to RTI and IP applications.
The RTI Act requires Council to publish a list of information on its website that is routinely available to residents, known as a 'publications scheme.'
Information on the current publication scheme is available here.
CCTV and Information Privacy
Council has camera surveillance systems across the City, and the below document outlines their general location and purpose. The community can apply for access to the surveillance footage through a Right to Information or Information Privacy application.
Administration Access Applications
Townsville City Council administratively releases information in many different ways including the Townsville Dashboard, Open Data portal and E-planning. Sometimes however it is important and efficient to release information to applicants without the need for a full RTI or IP application. Administrative access applications are ad hoc requests for a Council document or part of a document. An administrative access request must be referred to the relevant Policy & Governance Officer for consideration. The Policy & Governance Officer must assess the request to determine if the document can be released administratively. The administrative release of a document is at the discretion of the Chief Legal Officer subject to legislative provisions and Council policy.
The administrative release of information is to be in accordance with open and transparent governance and reduces the need for a formal RTI access application.
RTI Access Applications
If a Council document is not publicly available, or available via an administrative access request, an individual can make a formal application to Council to access a Council document under the provisions of the RTI Act. An RTI access application must:
- Be in the approved form and accompanied by the prescribed application fee
- Give sufficient information to enable the identification of the documents requested
- State an address where notices issued under the RTI Act or IP Act are to be sent.
The RTI access application applies only to documents that are, or may be, in existence on the day the application is received.
RTI application forms are available from Council’s website, at Council’s administration centres or by requesting a copy to be posted.
The RTI Act provides Council with 25 business days, from Council’s receipt of the application, to receive a decision. At any time before the processing period expires, Council may ask the applicant for an extension of the processing period with a view to making a considered decision.
If an access application is outside the scope of the legislative provisions, Council will advise the applicant within 10 business days after receiving the application. If the application does not meet all the requirements of a valid application, Council will advise the applicant within 15 business days.
Where an access application is made for a document that contains the applicant’s personal information, Council will advise the applicant within 15 business days that the application could have been made under the IP Act without application fees or processing charges being payable.
There is a fee for an access application. Additional costs may be incurred for printing or additional administration. Where formal applications under the RTI Act are made, the fees and charges specified in the Right to Information Regulation 2009 (“the Regulation”) will be applied by Council.
Before the end of the processing period Council will provide the applicant with a schedule of relevant documents (unless this requirement is waived by the applicant), in some instances a charges estimate notice and the applicant’s options to continue from there.
The CEO or delegated officer assesses each application in accordance with the exemptions and contrary to public interest test factors prescribed by the RTI Act. If the delegate considers on balance, that disclosure of the information would be contrary to the public interest, the information will not be released and will provide the applicant with the reasons for such a decision.
Council may refuse to deal with an access application if it would substantially and unreasonably divert Council’s resources. Council can also refuse to deal with an access application if the application was previously made for access to the same documents.
Once an access application has been assessed, the delegate provides the applicant with a written notice of its decision and a statement of reasons in accordance with the RTI Act.
Making an Application
If the information an applicant is seeking is not available through our routine releases an applicant can submit an RTI or IP application. Applications must be made by completing the attached application form and provide sufficient information to correctly identify the information being requested.
Information Privacy applications must provide certified identification of the applicant, e.g. driver's licence, birth certificate etc. within 10 business days of lodging the application. Council's RTI Officer will determine if the information or document requested is available under the provisions of the relevant legislation.
Information Privacy applications do not require an application fee, and the only access fees may be charged. Where an RTI application contains the personal information of the applicant, any processing and access fees associated with those documents will not be payable either.
You will be given notices outlining:
- What documents are available
- What the classification of those documents are including if they contain your personal information
- What the estimated charge may be (a Charges Estimate Notice)
- Your ability to consult with Council to amend the application in order to reduce the charge
- The final process including that you must agree in writing to pay the application charge, withdraw or request waiver of charges on the grounds of financial hardship.
Council has 25 business days in which to provide applicants with a decision regarding access for information. There are some factors that can alter this limit as per S.69 of the Act. You will be notified as soon as possible if any of these arise.
Applying for Right to Information (RTI) is a last resort to gain access to documents from council. Please contact the RTI Officer before lodging an application to see if access to the documentation can be accessed administratively.
- RTI Application Form (PDF, 207.8 KB)
- Information Privacy Personal Information Amendment Form (PDF, 128.4 KB)
Fees and Charges as at 10 August 2020
|Right to Information Application Fee||Each||$51.70|
More than 5 hours processing the application
|15 minutes or part thereof||$8.00|
For Right to Information and Information Privacy photocopying charges (A4 black and white photocopy)
Lodgement and Payment
PLEASE NOTE: A payment processing fee applies to credit card payments. The rate is 0.5% of the payment amount for Visa and MasterCard. Exemptions may apply. AMEX and Diners Club are no longer accepted.
Applications can be submitted in the following methods:
Attention to: Right to Information Legal Services|
Customer Service Centre located at:
Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
Customer Service Point located at:
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Payment can be made in the following forms:
- Cheque - crossed, marked 'not negotiable' and payable to Townsville City Council
- Eftpos and Credit Card payment
- Cash (do not send through mail) *Not available at CityLibraries Thuringowa
Third Party Consultation
If the documents requested contain information which may reasonably be expected to be of concern to a government, agency or relevant third party then the documents may not be released until consultation with the third party occurs. Should consultation be required, a further 10 business days is added onto the timeframe to allow for such consultation.
Townsville City Council provides access to documents released following a decision pursuant to the Right to Information Act 2009. The Disclosure Log contains a summary of the documents released including a brief description, release type and number of pages. Please note that documents containing personal information will not be provided.
Should you wish to access any of the information contained within these disclosures, please contact Legal Services on 4727 9017.
Information Privacy Amendments
A person may apply to council for an amendment of information relating to their personal information that they claim is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading.
An application for an amendment of information must be made completing the attached application form and identify what information you claim is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading. The application should also state the amendments necessary for the information to be accurate.
- Information Privacy Personal Information Amendment Form (PDF, 128.4 KB)
The Decision Maker will provide to the applicant with a decision notice outlining the matters considered as part of their application including the reasons to fully release the documents, not to release documents, to give only partial access to documents, or to refuse to amend personal information.
The applicant can request an internal review, which will be undertaken by an internal review officer within Council. The application for internal review must:
- be in writing;
- state an address to which notices may be sent to the applicant for internal review;
- be made within 20 business days after the date of the written notice of the decision; and
- be lodged at an office of the Council.
The applicant can also request an external review, which will be undertaken by the Queensland Information Commissioner. The application for external review must:
- be in writing;
- state an address to which notices may be sent to the applicant for external review;
- give details of the decision for review;
- be made within 20 business days from the date of the written notice of the decision; and
- be lodged with the Queensland Information Commissioner.