Ombudsman Tasmania is still reviewing a Right to Information request from four years ago, with its backlog of reviews dating back as early as 2017 and another 106 others waiting in line behind it.
The Ombudsman confirmed 107 RTIs were awaiting review, with the earliest active review lodged in February 2017.
A spokesperson for the Ombudsman said a preliminary decision on the 2017 RTI had been completed and sent to the unnamed public authority, but further submissions were made against releasing the information.
The number of reviews has grown from 85 in June 2020 to 107 by January.
In June, the average time to determine a review and deem it complete was 418 days.
In an email The Examiner has sighted, it stated a decision on an RTI review lodged last July should not be expected in 2021.
"Given our office's historic backlog of RTI reviews, which we are working thru [sic] in chronological order, it will take significant time for us to be able to finalise your latest request," the email said.
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A spokesperson for Justice Minister Elise Archer did not answer what the government was doing to address the refusal of RTIs or the issue of public sectors not providing an RTI decision during the required time frame, which are contributing to the backlog.
They instead said the state government provided the Ombudsman's office with an additional $245,000 a year in the 2019/20 budget.
"This has allowed for the recruitment of two additional staff members to specifically work on RTI requests," they said.
Tasmania had the worst RTI refusal rate in Australia at 30 per cent in 2018-19 and in the same year had the highest number of reviews at 4.9 per cent. It was the second worst in the country at not providing an RTI decision during the required time frame, at 27 per cent.
In the office's latest annual report, Ombudsman Richard Connock said this could be improved by training public authorities, addressing the lack of reasoning given for RTI refusals and the time management of requests to ensure deadlines were met.
"The two key drivers of an external review by my office are a public authority's decision to refuse access to information or failure to decide an application within the Act's timelines," he said.
"The proportion of RTI decisions in which Tasmanian public authorities refuse to release any of the information sought vastly exceeds all mainland jurisdictions, and has been increasing each year since 2016/17.
"My office continues to receive too many applications for external review where a public authority has not delivered a decision on the request for information within the period required."
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