Mr Dan Monceaux
Right to Know Organisation
By email to:
and mailto:[FOI #4187 email]
Dear Mr Monceaux
Your Freedom of information request No. LS6299
I refer to your emails dated 31 October 2017 12:09 PM and 31 October 2017 12:11 PM to
the Australian Electoral Commission (‘AEC’) in which you request (your ‘FOI Request’)
access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(the ‘FOI Act’) access to membership
lists of the Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division and Liberal Party of Australia (SA
I am writing today to acknowledge receipt of your FOI Requests and to give you a
decision about access to documents that you requested in each FOI Request.
I, Owen Jones, Senior Lawyer of the AEC, am an officer authorised under section
23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in relation to FOI requests.
Specifically you sought access to a list of all current financial members of:
the Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division) [requested in your email dated
31 October 2017 12:09 PM]; and
Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division) [requested in your email dated
31 October 2017 12:11 PM.
I have combined your two FOI Requests into one request for consideration.
My reasons for doing so is that each request raises the same issues for
consideration, namely whether there is such a document in the possession of the
There are no documents that fall within the scope of your request.
Accordingly, I have decided to refuse your FOI Request. I explain why below.
50 Marcus Clarke St
Locked Bag 4007
Tel 02 6271 4411
Canberra City 2600
Canberra ACT 2601
Fax 02 6215 9999
ABN 21 133 285 851
link to page 1 Decision and reasons for decision
With regard to the class of documents specified in paragraph 4
with respect to your
FOI Request, I have decided under subparagraph 24A(1)(b)(ii) of the FOI Act, that
you the documents which you requested do not exist – information about why they
do not exist is given below.
Material taken into account
I have taken the following material into account in making my decision:
(a) the content of the documents that fall within the scope of the FOI Request;
(b) the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918
(the ‘Electoral Act’), specifically section
123 and 126;
(c) the FOI Act, specifically sections 24A; and
(d) the guidelines (‘FOI Guidelines’
) issued by the Australian Information
Commissioner under section 93A of the FOI Act, paragraphs 3.80– 3.84 and
My reasons for refusing access are given below.
Documents non-existent (s 24A(1)(b)(ii) of the FOI Act)
With respect to the class of documents described as ‘membership lists of the Liberal
Party of Australia (Victorian Division and Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division)’ in
the FOI Request, I found that:
(a) the Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division and Liberal Party of Australia
(SA Division) were registered in the Register of Political Parties on 18 July
(b) on 18 July 1984:
the Hon. Dame Margaret Georgina Constance Guilfoyle. D.B.E., a
member of the Liberal Party of Australia was, among others, a Senator for
the Hon. Harold William Young a member of the Liberal Party of Australia
was, among others, a Senator for South Australia.
I made the relying on the Hansards for the Senate in the 32nd Parliament published
for reference by the Parliament of Australia at: http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/summary/summary.w3p;adv=yes;orderBy=
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Section 124 of the Electoral Act provides for the registration of an eligible political
party for the purposes of Part XI of the Electoral Act as follows.
124 Registration of political parties
Subject to this Part, an eligible political party may be registered under this Part for the
purposes of this Act.
In so far as is material, section 123 of the Electoral Act provides:
In this Part, unless the contrary intention appears:
does not include a postal address that consists of a post office box
eligible political party
means a political party that:
is a Parliamentary party; or
has at least 500 members; and
is established on the basis of a written constitution (however
described) that sets out the aims of the party.
means a political party at least one member of which is a
member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
It follows from section 123 of the Electoral Act that the Liberal Party of
Australia (Victorian Division and Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division) were
each a Parliamentary party on 18 July 1984.
As there is no requirement for either the Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian
Division) or Liberal Party of Australia (SA Division) to lodge a list of 500
members with the AEC to register as a Parliamentary party, the AEC will not
have any document that contains a list of current financial members of either
the Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division) or the Liberal Party of
Australia (SA Division).
In view of this, no steps can reasonably be taken to find a membership list for
either the Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division) or the Liberal Party of
Australia (SA Division).
Subparagraph 24A(1)(b)(ii) of the FOI Act permits the AEC to refuse a request
for non-existent documents.
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In so far as is material, subsection 24A(1) of the FOI Act provides:
24A Requests may be refused if documents cannot be found, do not exist or
have not been received
Document lost or non-existent
An agency or Minister may refuse a request for access to a document if:
all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document; and
the agency or Minister is satisfied that the document:
does not exist.
Accordingly, I decided to refuse your FOI Request under subparagraph 24A(1)(b)(ii)
of the FOI Act.
YOUR REVIEW RIGHTS
If you are dissatisfied with my decision, you may apply for internal review or
Information Commissioner review of the decision. We encourage you to seek
internal review as a first step as it may provide a more rapid resolution of your
Under section 54 of the FOI Act, you may apply in writing to the AEC for an internal
review of my decision. The internal review application must be made within 30 days
of the date of this letter.
Where possible please attach reasons why you believe review of the decision is
necessary. The internal review will be carried out by another officer within 30 days.
Information Commissioner review
Under section 54L of the FOI Act, you may apply to the Australian Information
Commissioner to review my decision. An application for review by the Information
Commissioner must be made in writing within 60 days of the date of this letter, and
be lodged in one of the following ways:
GPO Box 52189, Sydney NSW 2001
Level 3, 175 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW
More information about Information Commissioner review is available on the Office
of the Australian Information Commissioner website. Go to www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/foi-reviews.
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