Our reference: RQ16/01657
Departmental reference: 1603-F1405
Ms Marie-Charlotte McKenna
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R.G. Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
BARTON ACT 0221
Sent by electronic mail to: [DFAT request email]
Dear Ms McKenna
Extension of time request under s 15AB
Thank you for your correspondence of 24 May 2016, in which you requested an
extension of time for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (the Department
to process a request for access to documents made by Mr Matthew Buchanan.
Mr Buchanan’s request was made on 24 February 2016 under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982
(Cth) (the FOI Act
) in the following terms:
any correspondence with China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam
and the United States in regards to the island building project in the
South China Sea enacted by China, and also correspondence between ministers
of parliament in regards to this
On 25 March 2016, the Department received Mr Buchanan’s written agreement to
extend the processing period by 30 days under s 15AA of the FOI Act.
On 22 April 2016, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC
granted the Department an extension until 26 May 2016 under s 15AB (2) of the
FOI Act (OAIC reference: RQ16/01557). This was on the basis that the request was
You have sought a further extension on the basis that the current processing period
is insufficient to deal adequately with Mr Buchanan’s request, because it is complex.
Contact with Applicant
On 14 June 2016, I wrote to Mr Buchanan to seek his comment on the Department’s
request. To date the OAIC has not received a response from Mr Buchanan.
GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001
Enquiries 1300 363 992 • [email address] • TTY 1800 620 241 • www.oaic.gov.au
ABN 85 249 230 937
As a delegate of the acting Information Commissioner, I am authorised to make
decisions on requests for extensions of time under s 15AB of the FOI Act.
I have decided to grant the Department further time under s 15AB (2) of the FOI Act
to 27 June 2016
. In coming to this decision I have considered the following factors:
The nature of the subject matter of the request is sensitive. Since the
Department was granted an extension by the OAIC, the agency has identified
documents as potentially being held in an additional three posts. This has
meant that the agency has ‘tasked 16 areas of the Department, the majority
of which are overseas posts’ with obtaining documents covered by the scope
of the request. I am satisfied that the identification of additional documents
introduces a level of complexity to what was already a complex request.
Based on the information above, I am satisfied that granting the Department further
time to process this request will allow the agency sufficient time to manage and
produce a well-reasoned FOI decision. I am satisfied that an extension until
27 June 2016 is appropriate in the circumstances.
A copy of this decision will be provided to Mr Buchanan.
If you have any questions about this email, please contact me on (02) 9284 9615
Tuesday and Wednesdays. Alternatively, I can be reached by email at [email address]. In
all correspondence please include reference number RQ16/01657
Assistant Merit Review Officer
Dispute Resolution Branch
21 June 2016