ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Your right to access information held by Hilltops Council is governed by the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act). The GIPA Act began on 1 July 2010, replacing the Freedom of Information Act 1989 and Section 12 of the Local Government Act 1993. The GIPA Act can be found here.
The GIPA Act creates rights to information that are designed to meet the community’s expectations of more open and transparent government. This means that information will generally be released unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.
This page provides information on how the community can access information from Hilltops Council.
Public Access to government information
The objective of the GIPA Act is to make government information more accessible to the public by:
- requiring government agencies to make certain sorts of information freely available,
- encouraging government agencies to proactively release as much other information as possible,
- giving the public an enforceable right to make access applications for government information, and
- restricting access to information only when there is an overriding public interest against disclosure or when otherwise required by law.
Hilltops Council will assess all requests for access to documents and information in a timely manner and in accordance with the GIPA Act.
Council has developed an Access to Information Held by Council policy and procedure which sets out the documents and types of information that are routinely available to members of the public, as well as those that will not generally be available.
Where practicable, Council will deal with requests to inspect documents, in accord with the GIPA Act, free of charge, but a reasonable photocopying fee may be payable under the Act for copies of documents. (The provision of copies of documents is subject to copyright legislation and explained in more detail in Council’s Access to Information Held by Council policies and plans and Agency Information Guide).
What kinds of information can be released?
The way information is provided to the public depends on the nature of that information. There are four different ways that Council information will be released:
- Mandatory release – State and local government agencies are required to publish specific Open Access Informationon their website, free of charge, unless if doing so would impose unreasonable additional costs on the agency.
- Proactive release – State and local government agencies are encouraged to make as much other information as possible publicly available in an appropriate manner, including online. The information should be available free of charge or at the lowest reasonable cost. For example, frequently requested information or information of public interest may be made readily available.
- Informal release – State and local government agencies are authorised to release other information in response to an informal request, subject to any reasonable conditions an agency imposes, without the need for an application to be lodged under Formal Access. Council encourages applications for access to information to be made, initially, under the informal request provisions set out in Section 8 of the GIPA Act. Council’s Access to Information Held by Councilpolicy and procedure and Agency Information Guide list the types of information that is available. Complete the GIPA Information Request form (available at the bottom of this page or under Council’s Forms section) to make an informal information request. (No fee is required for an Informal Request application, however, fees not exceeding Council’s photocopying charges will apply in accordance with Council’s adopted Fees and Charges).
- Formal release – Under Part 4 of the GIPA Act, Council can release information in response to a formal access application. This is the last resort for obtaining Council information if it is not available in any other way. Generally, a Formal Access Application is required if your application involves:
- a large volume of information,
- sensitive or confidential information;
- estimated processing time exceeds 1 hour;
- extensive research and substantial resources are required; or
- the information requested relates to third parties who will need to be consulted prior to release of the information.
Complete the Formal Access Application form on the following link Hilltops Council forms – Hilltops Council (nsw.gov.au) and submit to Council with a $30 Formal Application fee (statutory charge under the GIPA Act). Please note that $30 hourly processing charges may also apply.
Open Access Information
Council will publish mandatory release information (‘Open Access Information’) on its website unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure, or if doing so would impose an unreasonable additional cost on Council.
The following list of government information is Open Access Information that Council is required to make publicly available under Section 18 of the GIPA Act (Mandatory or Proactive Release):
Councillors and designated persons disclosure of interest returns
Under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) and Regulations 2018 Council is required to publish the Returns made by Councillors and Designated Persons available on the website.
In accordance with the Information and Privacy Commissions Guideline 1, for Local Councils issued on 26 September 2019, Written Returns of Interest for Councillors and Designated Persons are required to be published to Council’s website.
Please note: some information such as signatures or addresses may have been redacted (removed) as allowed under section 6(4) of the Government Information Public Access Act 2009:
You can also arrange to view past documents by contacting Council’s Public Officer via phone: 1300 445 586 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Access Information Not Publicly Available - Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009
In accordance with Section 6(5) of the Government information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) Hilltops Council must keep a record of any open access information that it does not make publicly available on the basis of an overriding public interest against disclosure. The following table details open access information not disclosed due to an overriding public interest against disclosure.
While Council meetings are the formal decision-making forum for matters over which Council has jurisdiction, there are a number of Council decisions that are not made at formal meetings. Effective functioning of local government would not be possible if all decisions had to go to Council. Instead, a range of decision making powers are allocated by formal delegation to the General Manager.
At its meeting on 14 December 2022, Council delegated to the General Manager any functions, powers, duties and authorities of the Council with the exclusion of those listed in Section 377 (1) clauses (a) to (u) of the Local Government Act 1993 as follows:
377 General power of the council to delegate
1. A council may, by resolution, delegate to the general manager or any other person or body (not including another employee of the council) any of the functions of the council, other than the following:
- appointment of a general manager
- making of a rate
- determination under section 549 as to the levying of a rate
- making of a charge
- fixing of a fee
- borrowing of money
- voting of money for expenditure on its works, services or operations
- compulsory acquisition, purchase, sale, exchange or surrender of any land or other property (but not including the sale of items of plant or equipment)
- acceptance of tenders which are required under this Act to be invited by the council
- adoption of an operational plan under section 405
- adoption of a financial statement included in an annual financial report
- decision to classify or reclassify public land under Division 1 of Part 2 of Chapter 6
- fixing of an amount or rate for the carrying out by the council of work on private land
- decision to carry out work on private land for an amount that is less than the amount or rate fixed by the council for the carrying out of any such work
- review of a determination made by the council, and not by a delegate of the council, of an application for approval or an application that may be reviewed under section 82A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
- power of the council to authorise the use of reasonable force for the purpose of gaining entry to premises under section 194
- decision under section 356 to contribute money or otherwise grant financial assistance to persons
- decision under section 234 to grant leave of absence to the holder of a civic office
- making of an application, or the giving of a notice, to the Governor or Minister
- power of delegation
- function under this or any other Act that is expressly required to be exercised by resolution of the council.
1A. Despite subsection (1), a council may delegate its functions relating to the granting of financial assistance if:
- a. the financial assistance is part of a specified program, and
- b. the program is included in the council’s draft operational plan for the year in which the financial assistance is proposed to be given, and
- c. the program’s proposed budget for that year does not exceed 5 per cent of the council’s proposed income from the ordinary rates levied for that year, and
- d. the program applies uniformly to all persons within the council’s area or to a significant proportion of all the persons within the council’s area.
2. A council may, by resolution, sub-delegate to the general manager or any other person or body (not including another employee of the council) any function delegated to the council by the Departmental Chief Executive except as provided by the instrument of delegation to the council.
Pursuant of Section 378 of the Local Government Act 1993, the General Manager can sub-delegate functions to staff.
This register of delegations is the list of functions that the General Manager has delegated to staff. Delegations from Council to the General Manager are required to be reviewed within 12 months following a general election:
Where can I get further information?
Further information can be obtained from the Information and Privacy Commission of NSW.
The Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) has been established as part of the right to information system and is led by the Information Commissioner. The role of the IPC is to promote public awareness and understanding of the right to information law and provide information, support, advice, assistance and training to agencies and the general public.
To contact the IPC: