The Northern Territory Information Act (the Act) was passed by the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly on 8 October 2002. The Act commenced on 1 July 2003 and will affect the way that Northern Territory public sector organisations collect, use and store University and personal information. Under the Act and for the first time in Australia, the related issues of freedom of information (FOI), privacy and records and archives management are brought together.
The Act is designed to promote the protection of personal information and the free flow of government information subject only to the need to protect essential public interests and the private and business interests of persons.
The primary purpose of the Act is to encourage the view within government that access to information is of positive benefit and that public sector organisations should operate within a culture of readily providing access to government information, unless good reasons exist for not doing so.
The Act has four main components:
- A right of access to government information, including personal information, except where an exemption applies
- The appointment of an Information Commissioner
- Effective and responsible record keeping and records management
- The protection of personal information in the public sector by applying Information Privacy Principles (IPPs).
The Act does not replace other procedures for accessing information, or limit access to government information (other then personal information) this is already publicly available.
The Act creates a legal right of access to government and personal information held by government, including the right to request the correction of personal information where a person believes that the information regarding them is incorrect, inaccurate or out of date. This right of access is limited where the disclosure of particular information would be contrary to the public interest, due to it having a prejudicial effect on essential public interests or on the private or business interests of other persons.