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OMBUDSMAN ACT 1976 - SECT 7A

Preliminary inquiries

Ombudsman may make preliminary inquiries

  (1)   Where a complaint has been made to the Ombudsman with respect to action taken by a Department or by a prescribed authority or it appears to the Ombudsman that the Ombudsman may, under paragraph   5(1)(b), investigate action so taken, the Ombudsman may, for the purpose of:

  (a)   determining whether or not the Ombudsman is authorized to investigate the action; or

  (b)   if the Ombudsman is authorized to investigate the action--determining whether or not the Ombudsman may, in his or her discretion, decide not to investigate the action;

make inquiries of the principal officer of the Department or prescribed authority or, if an arrangement with the principal officer of the Department or authority is in force under subsection   (2), of such officers as are referred to in the arrangement.

Disclosure of information

  (1A)   Subsections   (1B), (1C), (1D) and (1E) apply if:

  (a)   the Ombudsman requests the principal officer, or (if applicable) an officer referred to in the arrangement, to give information (including an answer to a question) to the Ombudsman or to produce a document or other record to the Ombudsman; or

  (b)   the principal officer, or (if applicable) an officer referred to in the arrangement, reasonably believes that information or a document or other record would assist the Ombudsman to make a determination under subsection   (1).

  (1B)   If the officer:

  (a)   gives the information to the Ombudsman or produces the document or record to the Ombudsman; and

  (b)   by doing so:

  (i)   contravenes any other enactment; or

  (ii)   might tend to incriminate the officer or make the officer liable to a penalty; or

  (iii)   discloses a legal advice given to a Minister, a Department or a prescribed authority; or

  (iv)   discloses a communication between an officer of a Department or of a prescribed authority and another person or body, being a communication protected against disclosure by legal professional privilege; or

  (v)   otherwise acts contrary to the public interest;

the information or the production of the document or record is not admissible in evidence against the officer in proceedings other than proceedings for an offence against section   137.1, 137.2 or 149.1 of the Criminal Code that relates to this Act.

  (1C)   The officer is not liable to any penalty under the provisions of any other enactment by reason of his or her giving the information to the Ombudsman or producing the document or record to the Ombudsman.

  (1D)   For the purposes of the Privacy Act 1988 , the giving of the information to the Ombudsman or the production of the document or record to the Ombudsman is taken to be authorised by this Act.

  (1E)   Subsection   (1B) does not otherwise affect a claim of legal professional privilege that anyone may make in relation to the information, document or record.

Arrangements with Departments and prescribed authorities

  (2)   The Ombudsman may from time to time make with the principal officer of a Department or of a prescribed authority an arrangement with respect to the officers of whom all inquiries, or inquiries included in a class or classes of inquiries specified in the arrangement, are to be made by the Ombudsman in pursuance of subsection   (1) with respect to action that has been or is taken by the Department or authority.


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