Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2017 21:40:56 +0000
Subject: Freedom of Information request - APSC produced document for the IPA
From: Fliccy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: FOI <email@example.com
Dear Australian Public Service Commission,
The following is an FOI request.
I refer the APSC to the following media coverage:
As I understand, that media coverage relates to this FOI decision: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/ipa_and_hr_hicholls_society_docu
and specifically, the production of a 13 page document by APSC staff (titled “Examples of ‘soft’ arrangements in Commonwealth enterprise agreements” (the “APSC produced document for the IPA”) beginning at page 16 of this document https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/3471/response/9986/attach/4/Documents%20C17%201026.pdf
) for the use and benefit of far right wing political extremist group, the Institute of Public Affairs (the ‘IPA’) – a political group for which the current Public Service Commissioner is a contributing member, and former director.
As I understand from the articles and the FOI documents referred to above, certain APSC staff consider it an appropriate use of scarce Commonwealth resources/taxpayer money to provide research and authoring services to the IPA in order to further the political objectives of the IPA and its membership (including the Public Service Commissioner).
I request access to all documents held by the APSC that relate to the APSC produced document for the IPA.
To narrow the scope of my request I am willing for it to relate only to email documents (ie. emails and any attachments to those emails) and I am willing for the APSC to disregard all but the last email in email chains/threads (but only on the basis that the preceding emails in those email chains will be included in the last email of those email chains). I am also willing for the APSC to disregard any documents within the scope of my request that have already been made available here: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/3471/response/9986/attach/4/Documents%20C17%201026.pdf
The APSC staff who took part in the preparation of the APSC produced document for the IPA have likely acted illegally (noting the obligations, prohibitions and criminal offences established by the Public Service Act 1999, the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Criminal Code Act 1995) and so part of the purpose of my request is to ensure that those officers are brought to justice.
While I understand that the Public Service Commissioner was intimately involved in the preparation of the document at issue, I understand that other APSC staff had some involvement in the preparation of the document.
I note, for example, from pg 9 of 32 of the document available here: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/3471/response/9986/attach/4/Documents%20C17%201026.pdf
that the APSC’s Group Manager Corporate thinks it appropriate to copy in members of the IPA into intra senior management APSC communications as if those IPA members are on the APSC’s/Commonwealth’s payroll and part of the APSC’s senior management team and so perhaps the APSC’s Group Manager Corporate played some part in the preparation of the document at issue.
I remind the APSC of the following:
- the objects of the FOI Act which relevantly include “increasing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the Government’s activities”, “increasing recognition that information held by the Government is to be managed for public purposes, and is a national resource” and “that functions and powers given by [the FOI Act] are to be performed and exercised, as far as possible, to facilitate and promote public access to information, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost”.
- the criminal offence established by section 24 of the Archives Act 1983; and
- the obligations imposed on APSC staff by the Public Service Act 1999 (in particular the obligations to behave honestly, apolitically, with integrity and transparently) and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
Further, if any member of the APSC’s Legal Group who holds a practising certificate processes this request (or indeed if they were involved in the preparation of the document at issue), I remind those APSC officers of their professional obligations in relation to their paramount duty to the administration of justice and to avoid any conduct which may be seen to compromise their integrity and professional independence.
I also note relevant advice from the FOI Guidelines that provides that “[w]here public servants’ personal information is included in a document because of their usual duties or responsibilities, it would not be unreasonable to disclose unless special circumstances existed” and that “[w]hen considering whether it would be unreasonable to disclose the names of public servants, there is no basis under the FOI Act for agencies to start from the position that the classification level of a departmental officer determines whether his or her name would be unreasonable to disclose. In seeking to claim the exemption an agency needs to identify the special circumstances which exist rather than start from the assumption that such information is exempt.”
Lastly, I note that it would be clearly improper (at least from the perspective of an ethical, honest and law abiding public servant) for this request to be processed by any person who has any affiliation whatsoever with the Liberal Party, the IPA or any other far right wing political extremist group. To the extent that there are any authorised officers at the APSC who have no such affiliations, I request that they process this request independently of other APSC officers who are affiliated with extremist groups of that persuasion.
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