Palaszczuk government's abuse of taxpayers' legal rights

Right To Information In Queensland Trampled On Again

A fundamental part of the rule of law is accountability and transparency of government decisions.

It is impossible for governments to be held to those standards if there is no proper record keeping by government agencies. If there is no piece of paper on a particular topic or decision, Right to Information legislation is impotent. You may as well throw that legislation away. The rights of taxpayers are trampled on again.

So, an examination is being conducted around the jurisdictions as to the legislative requirements binding each Commissioner.

Queensland – Public Records Act 2002 Section 7 states:

“Making and keeping of public records

  1. A public authority must—
    (a) make and keep full and accurate records of its activities; and
    (b) have regard to any relevant policy, standards and guidelines made by the  archivist about the making and keeping of public records.
  2. The executive officer of a public authority must ensure the public authority complies with subsection (1)

For the OSR, the executive officer is the Commissioner.

TTR has been advised by Queensland State Archives: Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy as follows:

“As you identify, under the PR Act, public authorities (and all public sector employees) are responsible for creating and managing full and accurate records of their business decisions and actions. Chief executives have legislative obligations under the PR Act to ensure their agency implements record keeping and has regard to the standards and advice published by Queensland State Archives.

The Records governance policy establishes the mandatory governance practices that Queensland public authorities must have regard to. Specifically, Policy requirement 3 establishes the obligation for public authorities to create complete and reliable records as evidence of business activities. This would include keeping notes of meetings that provide evidence of decisions and actions.

The State Archivist has also issued a number of other polices, standards and guidelines that public authorities must have regard to, many of which include information about making and keeping records within specific contexts. These include:

  • Records governance policy implementation guideline
  • Ministerial records policy
  • Source records disposal guideline
  • Queensland recordkeeping metadata standard and guideline
  • QSA records storage standard.

More information about these documents can be found at https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/understand-public-records-act-obligations.

The State Archivist also issues retention and disposal schedules which outline the minimum amount of time that records are required to be retained for. Prior to the disposal of any records, their disposal must be authorised. This authorisation usually comes in the form of retention and disposal schedules. More information about the retention, disposal and destruction of records can be found at https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/retention-disposal-destruction-records.

Other advice published by Queensland State Archives on https://www.forgov.qld.gov.au/recordkeeping provides information to support the implementation of the Records governance policy and the PR Act.”

As they say: “Quod erat demonstrandum”.

Other jurisdictions

TTR will report on the other jurisdictions in due course.