FOI ref: 2020/0016
18 March 2020
Mr John Smith
Email: [FOI #6163 email]
Dear Mr Smith, Request consultation Process (s24AB) - Freedom of Information Request no. 2020/0016
I refer to your request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act
On 2 March 2020, I advised you of the Tribunal’s intention to refuse your FOI request
under s 24AA of the FOI Act and provided you with an opportunity to revise your request.
On 3 March 2020, I received your response to this request consultation process.
I note that in your email of 3 March 2020, you disagree with the AAT combining your
requests and treating them as a single request under s 24(2) of the FOI Act. The AAT
does not agree with your contention because the subject matter of the individual
requests is substantially the same. There is no obligation under the FOI Act for an
agency to consult individuals regarding the consolidation of multiple requests. Therefore,
we will continue to treat your five individual requests as one FOI request.
In your email you have also refined your FOI request. Although you have narrowed your
request, there are still parts of your request that cannot be processed in its current form
due to the amount of work involved in processing, which would substantively and
unreasonably divert the resources of the AAT. According to the OAIC Guidelines, an
agency cannot undertake a consultation process in relation to all
of the requested
documents and then, if the applicant does not withdraw or revise the request, unilaterally
decide to give access under the FOI Act to some of the requested documents and
refuse access to others on practical refusal grounds. What this means is, because your
request still includes documents that are unable to be processed on practical refusal
grounds, I must refuse your whole request.
Before I do this, I have set out below the parts of your request that I believe would
substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the AAT and provide you with an
opportunity to narrow these parts further. If these parts cannot be narrowed, your
request is likely to be refused under s 24AA of the FOI Act.
I refer to the following parts of your request:
Level 6, 83 Clarence Street
T: 02 9276 5000 or 1800 228 333
National Relay Service
SYDNEY NSW 2000
F: 02 9276 5599
GPO Box 9955 Sydney NSW 2001
E: [email address]
ABN 90 680 970 626
3. Any documents in possession of the AAT that detail the amount being
spent by the AAT on the procurement of labour hire staff.
Please narrow this request to only include documents that are monthly &
quarterly reports, spreadsheets, or on an AAT database
Although this part of your request has been narrowed substantially, searching the AAT’s
databases for documents that may fall within the scope of your request is a complex and
resource intensive task. This is because our finance database reports on labour hire
procurements processed through purchase orders and payment claims. The data since
amalgamation (1 July 2015) is voluminous and identifies persons to whom payments
have been made. Due to the amount of sensitive personal information, each individual
would need to be consulted under s 27A of the FOI Act.
We suggest that, if your request was narrowed to include a specific time period, i.e. for
the 2019 calendar year, it would remove the difficulties associated with dealing with the
request. The AAT could produce a report generated from our finance database which
identifies the labour hire providers and the financial payments but not the individual
contractors. This would then remove the need to consult a substantial number of
employees under s 27A. There would still be a need to consult the providers, however
the number of consultations would be dramatically reduced.
5. Any email correspondence between the AAT and any of its labour hire
agencies that discuss the contracts of employees of labour hire agencies;
who have/will, perform work at/on behalf of, the AAT
Please narrow this request to only include email correspondence between
a staff member of the AAT and a labour hire provider; in the month of
Although you have narrowed the scope of this request to include only emails in the
month of October 2019, the work involved in processing this request remains a
substantial burden on AAT staff. This is because you have not specified the particular
AAT staff members, so we would still need to consult over 714 individuals.
We suggest that you narrow the scope of this part of your request for emails to and from
a small number of specific staff members and labour hire agencies. We also suggest
refining your request to exclude both deleted and archived emails.
6. Copies of any staff emails in either the month of December 2019, or
January 2020; that mention section 6 of the Public Service Act.
Please narrow this request to only include emails in either the month of
December 2019, or January 2020; that contain the exact term “public
service act” (not case sensitive). Please also narrow the request to only
include the emails of officers within the MRD division.
Similar to part 5 of your request, although you have narrowed your request to only
include emails in the month of December 2019 and January 2020 and to include the
emails of officers who work in the Migration and Refugee Division (MRD), this request is
too broad for the following reasons:
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• Tribunal officers in the MRD make up approximately one third of staff at the AAT.
The Tribunal has over 714 staff, so there would be over 200 staff members. This
means an FOI officer would need to search the mailboxes of over 200 staff;
• As the mailboxes contain the personal information of individual employees, we
would need to consult over 200 staff, including those who have left the Tribunal;
• The wording of your request still requires us to retrieve deleted and archived
emails for a two month period of time.
To enable your request to proceed, we suggest that you refine your request for emails to
and from a small number of specific MRD employees. We also suggest refining your
request to exclude both deleted and archived emails.
8. Copies of any emails between the AAT and any of its labour hire
providers that mention the APS code of conduct.
Please narrow this request to exclude deleted or archived emails.
Part 8 of your request is too broad for the following reasons:
• You do not specify which AAT employees. The AAT has over 714
• Consultation with 714 individuals will be necessary pursuant to s 27A of the
To enable your request to proceed, we suggest that you refine your request to include
only emails to and from a small number of specific AAT employees and specific labour
9. A copy of all contracts between any labour hire provider and the AAT, in
the possession of either the AAT or the respective labour hire provider.
Please narrow this request to only include contracts entered into between
the months of September 2019 and October 2019.
Part 9 of your request remains too broad for a Tribunal officer to process in its current
form. This is because you have requested access to a copy of all contracts between any
labour hire provider and the AAT. We suggest narrowing your request to specify
particular labour hire providers so that we can search for the relevant contracts more
Please note, if your request is refined so as to enable the AAT to process it, the AAT
may impose a processing charge as the request does not concern your personal
information. If this occurs we will send you an estimate letter before commencing
[Signed] Skye M
Authorised FOI Officer (APS 6)
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