17 June 2019
Regina Jefferies BY EMAIL:
In reply please quote:
FOI Request: FA 19/05/01094
File Number: OBJ2019/30108
Dear Ms Jefferies,
Freedom of Information (FOI) request - Access Decision
On 17 May 2019, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) received a request for access
to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(the FOI Act).
The purpose of this letter is to provide you with a decision on your request for access under the
Scope of request
You have requested access to the following documents:
A copy of Procedural Instruction BC-2461 Bona Fides.
Authority to make decision
I am an officer authorised under section 23 of the FOI Act to make decisions in respect of
requests to access documents or to amend or annotate records.
In reaching my decision I referred to the following:
• the terms of your request
• the documents relevant to the request
• the FOI Act
• Guidelines published by the Office of the Information Commissioner under section 93A
of the FOI Act (the FOI Guidelines)
• advice from Departmental officers with responsibility for matters relating to the
documents to which you sought access
6 Chan Street Belconnen ACT 2617
PO Box 25 Belconnen ACT 2616 • Telephone: 02 6264 1111 • Fax: 02 6225 6970 • www.homeaffairs.gov.au
Documents in scope of request
The Department has identified 1 document as falling within the scope of your request. This
document was in the possession of the Department on 17 May 2019 when your request
The decision in relation to the documents in the possession of the Department which fall
within the scope of your request is as follows:
• Release 1 document in part with deletions
Reasons for Decision
Detailed reasons for my decision are set out below.
6.1 Section 22 of the FOI Act – deletion of exempt material
I have decided to prepare an edited copy of the document as the document contains some
information which can reasonably be regarded as not relevant to the scope of your request,
including names of departmental officers.
Departmental policy is that the personal details of officers who are not in the Senior
Executive Service (SES), as well as the mobile and work contact details of SES staff which
are contained in documents that fall within scope will be deleted.
I have therefore decided that parts of the document, which are marked ‘s.22(1)(a)(ii)’, would
disclose information that could reasonably be regarded as irrelevant to your request, and
have prepared an edited copy of the document, with the irrelevant material deleted
pursuant to section 22(1)(a)(ii) of the FOI Act.
6.2 Section 47E of the FOI Act – Operations of Agencies
Section 47E(d) of the FOI Act provides that documents are conditionally exempt if
disclosure would, or could reasonably be expected to, have a substantial adverse effect on
the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of an agency.
I consider that the disclosure of the parts of documents marked ‘s47E(d)’ would, or could
reasonably be expected to, have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient
conduct of the operations of the Department as parts of the document contain, among other
things, sensitive information pertaining to border operations and the interviewing
techniques used within bona fides interviews. After reasonable consideration, I find that
release of such information into the public domain may potentially undermine the efficacy
of these operations in the future.
Any disclosure resulting in the prejudice of the effectiveness of the Department’s
operational methods and procedures would result in the need for this Department, and
potentially its law enforcement partners, to change those methods and/or procedures to
avoid jeopardising their future effectiveness.
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Accordingly, I have decided that the documents are conditionally exempt under section
47E(d) of the FOI Act. Access to a conditionally exempt document must generally be given
unless it would be contrary to the public interest to do so. I have turned my mind to whether
disclosure of the information would be contrary to the public interest, and have included my
reasoning in that regard below.
6.3 The public interest – section 11A of the FOI Act
As I have decided that parts of the documents are conditionally exempt, I am now required
to consider whether access to the conditionally exempt information would be contrary to
the public interest (section 11A of the FOI Act).
A part of a document which is conditionally exempt must also meet the public interest test
in section 11A(5) before an exemption may be claimed in respect of that part.
In summary, the test is whether access to the conditionally exempt part of the document
would be, on balance, contrary to the public interest.
In applying this test, I have noted the objects of the FOI Act and the importance of the other
factors listed in section 11B(3) of the FOI Act, being whether access to the document would
do any of the following:
promote the objects of this Act (including all the matters set out in sections 3 and
inform debate on a matter of public importance;
promote effective oversight of public expenditure;
allow a person to access his or her own personal information.
Having regard to the above:
• I am satisfied that access to the documents would promote the objects of the
• I consider that the subject matter of the documents does not seem to have the
character of public importance. The matter has a very limited scope and, in my
view, would be of interest to a very narrow section of the public.
• I consider that no insights into public expenditure will be provided through
examination of the documents.
• I am satisfied that you do not require access to the documents in order to
access your own personal information.
I have also considered the following factors that weigh against the release of the
conditionally exempt information in the documents:
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• I consider that the disclosure of certain operational information pertaining to
interdicting passengers and conducting bona fides interviews at the border is
conditionally exempt under section 47E(d) as it would have a substantial
adverse effect on the operations of the Department. There is a strong public
interest in the Department maintaining its ability to conduct its border
operations securely and effectively. I consider the public interest is not served
in disclosing these operational details.
I have also had regard to section 11B(4) which sets out the factors which are irrelevant to
my decision, which are:
a) access to the document could result in embarrassment to the Commonwealth
Government, or cause a loss of confidence in the Commonwealth Government;
b) access to the document could result in any person misinterpreting or
misunderstanding the document;
c) the author of the document was (or is) of high seniority in the agency to which the
request for access to the document was made;
d) access to the document could result in confusion or unnecessary debate.
I have not taken into account any of those factors in this decision.
Upon balancing all of the above relevant public interest considerations, I have concluded
that the disclosure of the conditionally exempt information in the documents would be
contrary to the public interest and it is therefore exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act.
A copy of the FOI Act is available at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A02562.
If you are unable to access the legislation through this website, please contact our office
for a copy.
Your Review Rights
If you disagree with this decision, you have the right to apply for an internal review by the
Department of this decision. Any request for internal review must be provided to the
Department within 30 days of you being notified of the decision. Where possible please
attach reasons why you believe a review of the decision is necessary. The internal review
will be carried out by an officer other than the original decision maker and the Department
must make a review decision within 30 days.
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Applications for review should be sent to:
By email to: email@example.com
By mail to:
Freedom of Information Section
Department of Home Affairs
PO Box 25
BELCONNEN ACT 2617
Review by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
You may apply directly to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) for
a review of this decision. You must apply in writing within 60 days of this notice. For further
information about review rights and how to submit a request for a review to the OAIC,
please see Fact Sheet 12 "Freedom of information – Your review rights", available online
Making a Complaint
You may complain to the Australian Information Commissioner about action taken by the
Department in relation to your request.
Your enquiries to the Australian Information Commissioner can be directed to:
Phone 1300 363 992 (local call charge)
There is no particular form required to make a complaint to the Australian Information
Commissioner. The request should be in writing and should set out the grounds on which
it is considered that the action taken in relation to the request should be investigated and
identify the Department of Home Affairs as the relevant agency.
Contacting the FOI Section
Should you wish to discuss this decision, please do not hesitate to contact the FOI Section
Position number 60081621
Authorised Decision Maker | Freedom of Information Section
FOI and Records Management Branch
Productivity and Compliance Division | Corporate and Enabling Group
Department of Home Affairs
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