This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'OAIC and Hotjar'.


 
Our reference: FOIREQ19/00188 
O Wendell 
By Email: [FOI #5260 email] 
Your Freedom of Information Request 
Dear O Wendell   
I refer to your request for access to documents made under the Freedom of Information Act 
1982 
(Cth) (the FOI Act) and received by the Office of the Australian Information 
Commissioner (OAIC) on 16 August 2019 
In your request you seek access to the following: 
copies of invoices given to the OAIC by Holding Redlich and HWL Ebsworth in respect 
of their services related to consideration of whether the OAIC’s contractual 
arrangements with Hotjar comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act. 
On 11 September 2019 you advised that you: 
consent to the OAIC redacting the personal information of …... and any other person 
from any relevant document/invoice who is not/was not an OAIC staff member 
and/or public servant. I also consent to the OAIC redacting the hourly rates charged 
by Holding Redlich and HWL Ebsworth and the amount of time spent by those law 
firms on matters to which the invoices relates. 
Decision 
I am an officer authorised under s 23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in relation to FOI 
requests. 
I have identified two documents within the scope of your request. There is one invoice sent 
from Holding Redlich to the OAIC. The other document is an invoice sent from HWL Ebsworth 
to the OAIC. 
I have decided to give you access to both documents in part, with exempt material redacted 
under ss 47E(d) and 47G(1)(a) of the FOI Act.  
I have also made redactions under s 22 where information is irrelevant because you have 
excluded it from the scope of your request by email dated 11 September 2019. 
 
1300 363 992 
T +61 2 9284 9749 
GPO Box 5218 
www.oaic.gov.au 
[email address] 
F +61 2 9284 9666 
Sydney NSW 2001 
ABN 85 249 230 937 
 

Reasons for decision 
Material taken into account 
In making my decision, I have had regard to the following:  
•  your freedom of information request dated 16 August 2019 
•  the FOI Act, in particular sections 22, 47E, 47G and 11A 
•  the Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under s 93A of the FOI 
Act (the FOI Guidelines) 
Certain operations of agencies conditional exemption – s 47E(d) 
I have decided that documents 1 and 2 are conditionally exempt in part under s 47E(d) of the 
FOI Act. 
Under s 47E(d) of the FOI Act, a document is conditionally exempt if its disclosure could 
reasonably be expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient 
conduct of the operations of an agency. 
Section 47E(d) of the FOI Act states: 
A document is conditionally exempt if its disclosure under this Act would, or could reasonably 
be expected to, do any of the following:  
…  
(d) have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of 
an agency. 
The FOI Guidelines at [6.101] provides:  
 
For the grounds in ss 47E(a)–(d) to apply, the predicted effect needs to be reasonably 
expected to occur. The term ‘could reasonably be expected’ is explained in greater detail in 
Part 5. There must be more than merely an assumption or allegation that damage may occur 
if the document were to be released.  
 
Additionally, at [6.103] the FOI Guidelines further explain:  
An agency cannot merely assert that an effect would occur following disclosure. The 
particulars of the predicted effect should be identified during the decision making process, 
including whether the effect could reasonably be expected to occur. Where the conditional 
exemption is relied upon, the relevant particulars and reasons should form part of the 
decision maker’s statement of reasons, if they can be included without disclosing exempt 
material (s 26, see Part 3). 

 

In order to determine whether disclosure would, or could reasonably be expected to, have a 
substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of the OAIC, I 
have taken into consideration the functions and activities of the OAIC.  
 
As a Commonwealth agency, members of the public are able to make complaints about the 
OAIC through various means. This includes, but is not limited to, service complaints, 
complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, public interest disclosures and privacy 
complaints. The documents at issue concern a complaint made about the OAIC. 
Individuals who make complaints do so with the understanding that investigations about 
their complaints will be conducted in confidence, and that all information obtained during 
the course of the investigation will not be disclosed. 
In order to effectively conduct complaint investigations, it is necessary for the OAIC to openly 
engage with the relevant parties. Open engagement is imperative during an investigation as 
the OAIC relies upon the candour and frankness of the disclosure to provide pertinent 
information that will inform the OAIC’s view. As such, the OAIC’s ability to work with parties 
to elicit information, imperative to the investigation, will be adversely affected by the 
disclosure of the documents. 
If the documents at issue were disclosed under the FOI Act, contrary to the parties’ 
expectation of confidentiality, it is likely that the parties will be less likely to make 
complaints to Commonwealth agencies and parties will be less likely to be frank and 
participate fully in investigations, if there was an expectation that documents provided 
during the investigation would be disclosed under the FOI Act. 
 
Therefore, I consider that disclosure of the relevant documents could reasonably be 
expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the 
operations of the OAIC in investigating complaints about the OAIC. I find that the documents 
at issue are conditionally exempt under s 47E(d) of the FOI Act 
Business affairs exemption – s 47G(1)(b) 
Under s 47G(1) of the FOI Act, a document is, relevantly here, conditionally exempt if its 
disclosure under this Act would disclose information ... concerning the business, commercial 
or financial affairs of an organisation .. in a case in which the disclosure of the information 
could: 
(a) reasonably be expected to unreasonably affect that.... organisation .. in respect of 
its lawful business, commercial or financial affairs. 
The FOI Guidelines explain that the test ‘would, or could reasonably be expected’ requires 
the decision maker to assess the likelihood of the predicted or forecast event, effect or 
damage occurring after disclosure of a document ([5.16]). The word ‘could’ is less stringent 
than ‘would’ and requires analysis of the reasonable expectation rather than certainty of an 

 

event, effect or damage occurring. It may be a reasonable expectation that an effect has 
occurred, is presently occurring, or could occur in the future ([5.17]).  
The FOI Guidelines explain that the term ‘unreasonably’ implies a need to balance public 
and private interest factors to decide whether disclosure is unreasonable ([6.187]). The test 
of reasonableness applies not to the claim of harm but to the objective assessment of the 
expected adverse effect ([6.188]). 
The documents contain specific information about the billing process of both law firms, and 
if disclosed would reveal details of how the law firms deal with their clients. If information on 
pages 1, 3 and 6 of the documents was disclosed the law firms could be affected in their 
dealings with other clients. 
On examination of the information contained in the documents, I am satisfied that the 
information contained in one of the documents constitutes business information of a third 
party. The disclosure of this information could reasonably be expected to unreasonably 
affect that organisation in respect of its lawful business, commercial or financial affairs. 
Therefore, I am satisfied that the specific information contained in the invoices is 
conditionally exempt under s 47G(1)(b) of the FOI Act. 
Public interest test – s 11A(5) 
Section 11A(5) of the FOI Act provides that access must be given to a conditionally exempt 
document unless in the circumstances giving access would, on balance, be contrary to the 
public interest. 
In considering where the public interest lies, I must consider the factors that favour 
disclosure balanced against the factors that favour non-disclosure. 
The public interest factors that would favour disclosure is that the disclosure would promote 
the objects of the FOI Act and promote effective oversight of public expenditure. 
Against these factors I must balance any factors against disclosure. The FOI Act does not 
specify any factors against disclosure, however the FOI Guidelines, at paragraph [6.22], 
provide a non-exhaustive list of factors against disclosure. This includes factors such as 
when disclosure could;  
•  prejudice the competitive commercial activities of a group of individual or businesses  
•  prejudice the interests of third parties dealing with the government  
•  prejudice the ability of agencies to engage law firms 
•  reasonably be expected to prejudice the efficient management of the OAIC. 

 


•  reasonably be expected to impede the ability of the OAIC to continue to investigate 
complaints with a mutual understanding that information obtained during the course of 
an investigation will not be disclosed 
•  reasonably be expected to prejudice the OAIC’s ability to thoroughly investigate current 
and future complaints 
On balance, I consider that the factors against disclosure outweigh the factors in favour of 
disclosure. I have therefore decided that it would be contrary to the public interest to give 
you access to the information that I have found to be conditionally exempt under ss 47E(d), 
and 47G of the FOI Act. 
Please see the following page for information about your review rights and information the 
OAIC's disclosure log. 
Yours sincerely, 
 
Megan McKenna   
FOI Officer 
Legal Services   
15 October 2019   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

If you disagree with my decision 
Internal review 
You have the right to apply for an internal review of my decision under Part VI of the FOI Act. 
An internal review will be conducted, to the extent possible, by an officer of the OAIC who 
was not involved in or consulted in the making of my decision. If you wish to apply for an 
internal review, you must do so in writing within 30 days. There is no application fee for 
internal review. 
If you wish to apply for an internal review, please mark your application for the attention of 
the FOI Coordinator and state the grounds on which you consider that my decision should be 
reviewed. 
Further Review 
You have the right to seek review of this decision by the Information Commissioner and the 
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). 
You may apply to the Information Commissioner for a review of my decision (IC review). If 
you wish to apply for IC review, you must do so in writing within 60 days. Your application 
must provide an address (which can be an email address or fax number) that we can send 
notices to, and include a copy of this letter. A request for IC review can be made in relation to 
my decision, or an internal review decision.  
It is the Information Commissioner’s view that it will usually not be in the interests of the 
administration of the FOI Act to conduct an IC review of a decision, or an internal review 
decision, made by the agency that the Information Commissioner heads: the OAIC. For this 
reason, if you make an application for IC review of my decision, and the Information 
Commissioner is satisfied that in the interests of administration of the Act it is desirable that 
my decision be considered by the AAT, the Information Commissioner may decide not to 
undertake an IC review. 
Section 57A of the FOI Act provides that, before you can apply to the AAT for review of an FOI 
decision, you must first have applied for IC review. 
Applications for internal review or IC review can be submitted to: 
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner 
GPO Box 5218 
SYDNEY NSW 2001 
Alternatively, you can submit your application by email to [OAIC request email], or by fax on 
02 9284 9666. 

 

Accessing your information 
If you would like access to the information that we hold about you, please 
contact [email address]. More information is available on the Access our 
information 
page on our website. 
Disclosure log 
Section 11C of the FOI Act requires agencies to publish online documents released to 
members of the public within 10 days of release, except if they contain personal or business 
information that it would be unreasonable to publish.  
The documents I have decided to release to you do not contain business or personal 
information that would be unreasonable to publish. As a result, the documents will be 
published on oudisclosure log shortly after being released to you. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 
Appendix A: Schedule of documents – Freedom of information request no FOIREQ19/00188 
Document 
Date 
Description 
Decision on Access 
Exemption 
Page 
No 
1.   
31 May 2019 
Invoice 
Exempt in part  
ss 47E(d) and 47G 
1-3 
2.   
31 July 2019 
Invoice 
Exempt in part 
ss 47E(d) and 47G 
4-6 
 
 
 
1300 363 992 
T +61 2 9284 9749 
GPO Box 5218 
www.oaic.gov.au 
[email address] 
F +61 2 9284 9666 
Sydney NSW 2001 
ABN 85 249 230 937