7 January 2019
TD BY EMAIL: [FOI #5178 email]
In reply please quote:
I refer to your email dated 26 December 2018 in which you request access to documents
held by the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) under the Freedom of Information
(the FOI Act).
I am writing to tell you that I intend to refuse your request on the basis that a practical refusal
reason exists. However, before I make a final decision to do this, you have an opportunity
to revise your request to remove the practical refusal reason. This is called a ‘request
’. You have 14 days to respond to this notice in one of the ways set out
Scope of Request
You have requested access to the following:
Submissions by George Christensen or his office, supporting the granting of Visa's
for Filipino Nationals within the last 18months.
Power to refuse request
Section 24 of the FOI Act provides that if the Department is satisfied that a practical refusal
reason exists in relation to a request, the Department must undertake a consultation
process with you, and if, after that consultation process, the Department remains satisfied
that the practical refusal reason still exists, the Department may refuse to give you access
to the documents subject to the request.
A practical refusal reason
exists if either (or both) of the following applies:
the work involved in the processing of the request would substantially and
unreasonably divert the resources of the Department from its other
the request does not satisfy the requirement in section 15(2)(b) of the FOI
Act, which requires you to provide such information concerning the document
you are seeking access to, to enable the Department to be able to identify it.
6 Chan Street Belconnen ACT 2617
PO Box 25 Belconnen ACT 2616 • Telephone: 02 6264 1111 • Fax: 02 6225 6970 • www.homeaffairs.gov.au
link to page 2 link to page 2
Reasons for practical refusal
In order for the Department to be able to identify any documents that would be relevant to
your request, it is necessary to first identify the individual visa applications for which
submissions may have been received from Mr Christensen or a member of his staff. To do
this, each and every visa application received by the Department across the timeframe of
your request, being 18 months, would have to be assessed, to ascertain whether any such
submissions had been received.
In the event that the Department were to be able to limit those searches to individuals who
were identified as being a citizen of the Philippines, each of those visa applications would
have to be individually assessed to ascertain whether any submissions were received in
support of that application, and whether that submissions was from a particular person that
may fall within the scope of your request.
Whilst you have limited the timeframe for your request to 18 months, you have not identified
a specific type of visa. Statistics published by the Department on its website demonstrate
that in 2017-18
• a total of 106,773 visitor visa applications were lodged from individuals who were
citizens of the Philippines1
• a total of 2,520 primary subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visas were granted
to individuals who were citizens of the Philippines2
There are a broad range of other visas that would also be captured by your request.
The Department would be required to divert significant resources from its current operations
in order to identify, locate and collate the documents held within the Department that may
be captured by your request. Without reviewing each and every single visa application
received during the 18 month timeframe of your request, it would not be possible for the
delegated FOI decision maker to be assured that all documents relevant to your request
had been identified.
This diversion of resources which would occur to accomplish this task would result in a
substantial adverse effect on the business area within the Department that would be
required to undertake that task. To process the request would require a complete diversion
from that area’s ability to carry out their normal functions and activities.
I am satisfied that in order to undertake such a search for any documents that would be
relevant to your request, the Department would be required to divert significant resources
from its current operations, and that this diversion would result in an unreasonable diversion
of the resources of the Department from its normal operations.
Request Consultation Process
If you wish to revise your request to specify the documents you are seeking access to, the
agency may be able to process your request and consider whether it holds any relevant
You now have an opportunity to revise your request to enable it to proceed.
Under section 24AB of the FOI Act, you have 14 days to respond to this notice in writing
and advise me whether:
• you wish to make a revised request;
• indicate that you do not wish to revise your request; or
• withdraw your request.
If you do not do one of the three things listed above during the consultation period (14 days)
or you do not consult the contact person listed below during this period, your request will be
taken to have been withdrawn in accordance with section 24AB(7) of the FOI Act.
Should you wish to revise your request or have any questions in relation to this process,
please do not hesitate to contact us at [DIBP request email].
Acting Assistant Director | Freedom of Information Section
FOI and Records Management Branch
Productivity and Compliance Division | Corporate and Enabling Group
Department of Home Affairs