15 June 2020
Mr R Baumann BY EMAIL: [FOI #6297 email]
In reply please quote:
Dear Mr Baumann,
Freedom of Information (FOI) request - Access Decision
On 20 April 2020, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) received a request for access
to document 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 document:
The cost so far to taxpayers of detaining the Biloela Family on Christmas Island.
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 document or to amend or annotate records.
In reaching my decision I referred to the following:
the terms of your 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
document 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
link to page 2
Document in scope of request
In accordance with section 17 of the FOI Act, the Department has used its computer system
to produce one document that contains information that falls within the scope of your
request. The data produced in the document existed in the possession of the Department
on 20 April 2020 when your FOI request was received.
The decision in relation to the document in the possession of the Department which fall
within the scope of your request is to exempt one document in full.
Reasons for Decision
Detailed reasons for my decision are set out below.
6.1 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 document would, or could reasonably be expected to,
have a substantial adverse effect on the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of
Managing the security and integrity of Australia's borders is integral to the operations of the
I have decided that the document is 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 at paragraph 6.2 below.
6.2 The public interest – section 11A of the FOI Act
As I have decided that the document is 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 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 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;
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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 document would promote the objects of the
I consider that the subject matter of the document has a very limited scope
and, in my view, would be of interest to a very narrow section of the public.
I consider that an insight into public expenditure will be provided through
examination of the document.
I am satisfied that you do not require access to the document 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 document:
disclosure of the document could reasonably be expected to have a
substantial adverse effect on managing the security and integrity of Australia's
borders. I consider there to be a strong public interest in ensuring that the
ability of the Department to conduct its operations is not compromised or
prejudiced in any way. I consider that this would be contrary to the public
interest and that this factor weighs strongly against disclosure.
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
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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.
Applications for review should be sent to:
By email to: [email address]
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)
Email [email address]
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
at [DIBP request email].
Authorised Decision Maker
Department of Home Affairs
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