2016-17 Most Expensive Event

Jackson Gothe-Snape made this Freedom of Information request to Department of the Environment and Energy as part of a batch sent to 18 authorities

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department of the Environment and Energy should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Jackson Gothe-Snape

Dear Department of the Environment and Energy,

This is a request under the FOI Act.

Can you please provide the budgets, menus, expenses, invoices, receipts, credit card statements and reimbursements for the most expensive event attended by a Minister or Assistant Minister in your Department's portfolio area in 2016-17.

I request that any fees arising in relation to this request be waived as the information is in the public interest, as it helps inform the public about how the government is spending public revenue.

Yours sincerely,

Jackson Gothe-Snape

FOI Contact Officer, Department of the Environment and Energy

Dear Mr Gothe-Snape

Thank you for your email.

For a request to be valid under the FOI Act, it must provide such information concerning the document/s sought as is reasonably necessary to enable it/them to be identified by a responsible officer who is processing the request (section 15(2)(b)). In effect, an officer should be able to look at the wording of your request, and then look at a document, and be able to readily determine whether that document falls within the scope (and is therefore subject to your request).

Your request generally seeks access to documents pertaining to the "most expensive event" attended by Hon Josh Frydenberg MP in 2016-17.

The Department faces a number of difficulties in processing the request on its current terms. They are:

- The concept of 'most expensive event' is not sufficiently clear. For example, it is not clear what constitutes an 'event' or what costs-basis is to be applied in the assessment whether the event was the 'most expensive'.

- The Department did not organise all events attended by Hon Josh Frydenberg MP during 2016-17, and would therefore not hold all the documents needed to determine what was the most expensive event that the Minister attended during the relevant time period.

- In order to process the request in relation to documents it does hold, an officer would be unable to determine whether a specific document related to the 'most expensive event' without identifying all 'events', then identifying all relevant costs relating to each event and then tabulating them to establish which event is considered the 'most expensive'. The request is therefore not possible to process without undertaking an overarching analysis (ie, creating new documents), as opposed to simply applying the terms of a request to each existing document under consideration.

For these reasons, the request does not meet the requirement that it provide sufficient information to allow immediate identification of documents that are within scope, and therefore it does not meet the criteria under section 15(2)(b) of the FOI Act. This means it is not a valid request under the Act.

The Department would be happy to assist you to make a valid request under the Act.


Alan Hilvert-Bruce
Senior Legal Officer| Climate Change, Science and Corporate Legal Section |General Counsel Branch Department of the Environment
a: GPO Box 787 CANBERRA ACT 2600
t: (02) 6274 2721
e: [email address]

Note: The contents of any legal advice provided by the General Counsel Branch is subject to legal professional privilege. Do not disclose the contents of any such legal advice more broadly within the Department (i.e. outside the scope of persons to whom the legal advice is (or was) directed), via the intranet or outside the Department without first consulting the General Counsel Branch.

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Jackson Gothe-Snape


Thank for getting back to me, and I appreciate the offer to work on the scope of this request with you.

How does the Department attribute costs to certain events? With this information, I could accord my request with your record keeping practices.

Yours sincerely,

Jackson Gothe-Snape