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What You Cannot Access

Not all documents are automatically available. 

The Freedom of Information Act allows an agency to refuse access to certain documents or information. These documents or information are often called ‘exempt’ documents. 

In some cases you may be refused access to an entire document. Alternatively, you may be given access to a document with exempt information deleted. 

Here is a list of some documents that you may not be able to access:

  • Cabinet documents.
  • Some internal working documents.
  • Law enforcement documents.
  • Documents covered by legal professional privilege, such as legal advice.
  • Documents containing personal information about other people.
  • Documents containing information provided to an agency in confidence.
  • Documents containing information provided to an agency by a business.
  • Documents which are covered by secrecy provisions in other legislation.

This should not deter you from asking for access as each document is assessed on its merits before a decision is made.