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Disclosure log: Your inside look at the Government’s work

A disclosure log is where Queensland government agencies and Ministers publish information that has been released under Right to Information (RTI) applications. Other jurisdictions, such as federal agencies must also publish information on their disclosure log.

The idea behind the disclosure log is that if one person was interested in the information, it may be of interest to the rest of the public.

***Not sure what RTI is? Read my guide to RTI in Queensland here.***

How can a disclosure log help you?

Some of the government’s disclosure logs contain helpful information for the public. For example, Brisbane City Council routinely publishes information about development applications or environmental issues in local areas. If you’re interested in current public issues, the Department of Premier and Cabinet often publishes correspondence between the Premier and high-profile individuals.

Importantly, disclosure logs give an insight into government workings and issues. It’s another mechanism by which individuals can be informed of the decision making of their government. Informed citizens are vital to the functioning of a democratic society.

How do you access a disclosure log?

Disclosure logs are contained on the relevant government agency’s website, usually under the RTI page. A disclosure log looks like a list of applications that have been, or are currently being, processed by the agency. Where documents are available to view, there will often be a link for you to access a PDF of the information released under that RTI application.

Here are some examples of disclosure logs for Queensland State Departments:

What should you be aware of?

There are some things you should be aware of before you start looking at disclosure logs.

Timeframes

Agencies only need to publish documents “as soon as reasonably practicable” after finalising an RTI application. This means some agencies are not up to date with publishing information.

The Office of the Information Commissioner recently audited the disclosure logs of State Departments in Queensland and found most agencies took an average of 6 to 7 months to publish information. So be aware you may not be looking at the most recent information released by an agency!

If you’re interested you can read the Commissioner’s report on disclosure logs here.

Publication

There are some restrictions on the type of information that agencies can publish. They must not publish anything that:

  • contains the personal information of an individual;
  • is prevented from publication by law (for example, documents that are protected by copyright);
  • may be defamatory;
  • is confidential; or
  • could cause substantial harm to an entity.

So remember that you might not be seeing all the information that was released under a particular RTI application. Further information may have been deleted by agencies for the reasons above.

Different rules

Agencies that are not State Government Departments or Ministers have less onerous disclosure log requirements. As such, you may find that your local Council publishes significantly less information than the Queensland Police Service. This is allowed under the Right to Information Act 2009.

 

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