This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'IC reviews'.

Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2018 21:28:14 +0000
Subject: FW: Freedom of Information request - IC reviews [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
From: Enquiries <[email address]>
To: FOIDR <[email address]>

-----Original Message-----
From: Nil [mailto:[FOI #4368 email]]
Sent: Friday, 9 February 2018 7:19 AM
To: Enquiries <[email address]>
Subject: Freedom of Information request - IC reviews

Dear Office of the Australian Information Commissioner,

I'm a Commonwealth public servant who has worked for a number of Government agencies (including central agencies). Much of my work has involved processing FOI applications.

It's been my relatively recent experience that wherever applicants seek documents that might embarrass the Government, a Minister or SES staff, SES will tell me to draft up a decision that relies on any and every exception (even though they don't honestly apply), or instead to make up an exorbitant charge, or lie about the existence/non-existence of documents, in order to avoid providing access to the documents, despite that the documents are clearly in the public interest.

Whenever I've raised concerns about the decision I've drafted for the decision-maker being improper and subject to review, the response I receive is that the OAIC has a huge backlog of IC review matters and even if the decision was overturned, that outcome would take at least 12-18 months to come about by which time the political risk would have subsided.

I've been instructed by MOs to simply ignore certain FOI requests relating to documents held by a Minister and SES often tell me to ignore the statutory deadlines in the FOI Act because they're never enforced - and to be fair, from my experience, they're correct.
I'm sure it's not news to your office that the FOI Act is widely abused.

My experience has been that this attitude has really become embedded in the last few years under the current Government . I understand that the current Government has sought to cut the funding/resources of the OAIC which I assume has had some effect on your ability to process Information Commissioner review applications in a timely manner and so I'm interested in the number and age of outstanding IC review applications your office is sitting on.

My FOI request is for a document, perhaps prepared under s.17 of the FOI Act, that details the number of outstanding IC review applications made of the IC and the amount of time those review applications have been outstanding.


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