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Section 61Z - Reasonable excuse—documents affecting national security, defence or international relations

Guidelines

Reasonable excuse: documents affecting national security, defence or international relations

1.1

A person who receives a notice to produce or attend must do what the notice requires, or they may be liable to pay a penalty.1 However, the person may not have to comply with the notice if they have a reasonable excuse.

1.2

A reasonable excuse includes where the information or a document is exempt under section 29A (documents affecting national security, defence or international relations). This means a person does not have to produce a document or provide information if the document is an exempt document or including information in a document would make that document exempt under section 29A.

1.3

Section 29A contains several exemptions which protect from disclosure, documents:

  • that would or could be reasonably expected to cause damage to:
  • the security of the Commonwealth or any State or Territory;
  • the defence of the Commonwealth; or
  • international relations of the Commonwealth;2
  • held or created by Victoria Police for the purpose of counterterrorism, or a purpose relating to counterterrorism;3
  • held or created by Victoria Police for the purpose of the protection of critical infrastructure within the meaning of section 74B of the Emergency Management Act 2013 on the Victorian Critical Infrastructure Register under section 74J of that Act or any corresponding register kept by an agency of the Commonwealth;4
  • created for, or containing information about, or that could lead to the identification of a document created for the purposes of administering, complying with or enforcing Part 7A of the Emergency Management Act 2013, which relates to emergency risk management arrangements for critical infrastructure resilience.5
1.4

If one or more of these exemptions apply, then a person does not have to comply with a notice to produce or attend.

More information

See section 61X for information on what to do if a person thinks they have a reasonable excuse.

For more information on when the exemption in section 29A will apply, see section 29A – Documents affecting national security, defence or international relations.

  1. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 61X.
  2. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 29A(1).
  3. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 29A(1A)(a).
  4. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 29A(1A)(b).
  5. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 29A(1B).
  6. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 61X.
  7. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 29A(1).
  8. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 29A(1A)(a).
  9. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 29A(1A)(b).
  10. Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), section 29A(1B).

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Last updated 27 December 2023

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