FOI ref: 2020/0048
18 June 2020
Mr John Smith
Mr Jack Thornton
By email: [email address]
[FOI #6364 email]
Dear Mr Smith and Mr Thornton,
I refer to Mr Thornton’s request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information
(FOI Act) which was sent to the Tribunal on 29 May 2020.
Mr Thornton requested access to a copy of the following documents:
• The earliest ten emails between AAT senior officer Sera Clemens & the labour hire
recruitment firm Launch recruitment pty ltd. Please include deleted or archived emails
within this FOI request.
• Please exclude from these emails, any emails that do not discuss salary or the terms and
conditions for the employment of labour hire staff on premises at the AAT.
• This FOI request attempts to find the rate set for labour hire staff by the AAT, when
Launch recruitment was initially engaged. We have reason to believe that the rate set
across the department was below the applicable award rate.
Section 24 of the FOI Act – Multiple requests
Section 24(2) of the FOI Act provides that an agency may treat two or more requests as a
single request if the agency is satisfied that:
the requests relate to the same document or documents; or
the requests relate to documents, the subject matter of which is
substantially the same.
Paragraph 3.123 of the FOI Guidelines issued by the Office of the Australian Information
Commissioner (OAIC) explains that the most common circumstance in which requests may
be combined under s 24(2) is where there are multiple requests from a single applicant.
However, s 24(2) can also apply to two or more requests from different
addition, the Guidelines state that multiple requests can only be combined as a single
request under s 24(2) if there is a clear connection between the subject matter of the
I have considered the nature of the documents requested on 29 May 2020 from Mr Thornton
and the documents requested from Mr Smith on 19 May 2020, in the context of s 24(2). The
common thread in your requests is that they concern labour hire staff and procedures at the
AAT and I consider there to be a clear connection between the subject matter (labour hire) in
both FOI requests. I am therefore satisfied that the requests relate to documents, the subject
matter of which is substantially the same. I also note that your FOI request states that Mr
John Smith and Mr Jack Thornton are colleagues.
Consequently, I have combined the FOI request received from Mr Smith on 19 May 2020
with the FOI request received from Mr Thornton on 29 May 2020 into one single request
under s 24(2) of the FOI Act.
Notice that you are liable to pay a charge
I now refer to the combined request below. I am an officer authorised under section 23(1) of
the FOI Act to make decisions in relation to FOI requests. I am writing to advise you of my
decision that you are liable to pay a charge in respect of the processing of your request.
Together, you have requested access to:
1. The five most recent contracts (as at the date of this email) between the AAT, and the
labour hire provider 'Launch Recruitment'.
2. A copy of the AAT's policy & procedures regarding the use of labour hire firms. Please
narrow this request to only include documents that meet this description that are, or have
been available on the AAT's intranet, for use by the AAT's managerial staff when procuring
labour hire services.
3. The total number of labour hire staff presently working at the AAT. (Or a document, if it
exists, that would detail that fact)
4. The names of the labour hire firms presently supplying labour hire services to the AAT. (Or
a document, if it exists, that would detail that fact)
5. The amount spent by the AAT in the first quarter of 2020 on labour hire services. This is a
distinct figure from the amount spent on contractors generally, a figure available in the annual
reports. What I am interested in is the amount spent by the AAT on labour hire contractors
that are fulfilling roles functionally identical to ordinary APS staff. (This would exclude, for
example; an amount spent on a contractor electricians, or contractor management consultant
If this figure cannot be found in an existing document, please exclude it from the FOI request.
6. Any emails or instant message chat records within the inbox of either Chris Sutton or Sera
Clemens that discuss the story: https://www.michaelwest.com.au/boomers-vs-millennials-the-
Please include only emails or skype records from the dates 9th & 10th of April inclusive.
Please include deleted or achived emails for these two dates.
7. The earliest ten emails between AAT senior officer Sera Clemens & the labour hire
recruitment firm Launch recruitment pty ltd. Please include deleted or archived emails within
this FOI request. Please exclude from these emails, any emails that do not discuss salary or
the terms and conditions for the employment of labour hire staff on premises at the AAT.
In accordance with section 29 of the FOI Act and the Freedom of Information Charges
, my preliminary assessment of the charge you are liable to pay is $889.00
Basis for my preliminary assessment of the charge
Staff members have conducted searches for documents relating to your request. The
number of documents requiring examination to determine whether or not they fall within the
scope of your request is estimated at 24. These are in electronic format. This includes
emails, spread sheets and contracts. The calculations below are based on sample
processing times and prior experience of processing matters of similar size.
Please note, if you require searches of the AAT’s back-up tapes in order to obtain any
archived or deleted emails relevant to parts 6 & 7, additional charges may apply.
I have assessed the work the AAT would need to do to process your request and have
calculated the following breakdown of charges:
Number of relevant documents
Search and retrieval
Search and retrieval of relevant documents
Collation of emails, contracts and reports, including
8 hours 30 mins
printing, sorting and assessment of scope
Preparation of schedule of documents, including sorting,
cross checking and describing documents
A. Search and retrieval subtotal
Examination of documents, including reading all
documents, identifying parties who may require
consultation and consideration of exemptions
Consultation with third parties under section 27 and s27A
(estimate 1 complex entity, 43 other entities and five
persons that may reasonably wish to raise an exemption)
Preparation of documents for release, including marking
redactions, and copying to disk
Preparation of notice of access decision, including proof
Decision making subtotal (before deduction of 5
B. Decision making subtotal (after deduction of first 5
ACCESS AND DELIVERY CHARGES
Delivery (actual cost)
C. Access and delivery charges subtotal
ESTIMATED TOTALS AND DEPOSIT
ESTIMATED TOTAL (total of A, B and C)
Your right to contend the charge
Under the FOI Act, you have the right to contend that the charge:
• has been wrongly assessed, or
• should be reduced, or
• should not be imposed.
In deciding whether a charge should be reduced or not imposed, the decision maker in our
agency must take into account:
• whether payment of the charge, or part of it, would cause you financial hardship
• whether giving access to the documents is in the general public interest or in the
interest of a substantial section of the public
• any other relevant matter.
Payment of a deposit
As the charge exceeds $100, a 25 per cent deposit of $222.00 will be sought if the charge is
The deposit is not refundable except in some limited circumstances for example, if the AAT
fails to make a decision on your request within the statutory time limit, or may be refundable
in part if the final charge is less than the deposit paid.
Should you decide to pay the charge, please contact us regarding the method of payment.
The time you have to respond and what you need to do
You have 30 days to respond in writing to this notice. We therefore expect a response from
you by 20 July 2020
. By that date, you must do one of the following things in writing:
• agree to pay the charge (this will mean that you will not be entitled to access the
requested documents until the full charge is paid
• contend that the charge has been wrongly assessed, or should be reduced or not
imposed and explain your reasons
• withdraw your request.
Please send your response to:
[AAT request email]
If you do not provide us with a written response by 20 July 2020
your request will be taken
to have been withdrawn.
The period for processing your request is suspended from the day that you receive this
notice and resumes on either the day you pay the charge (in full or the required deposit) or
the day on which this agency makes a decision not to impose a charge.
Questions about this notice
If you have any questions or wish to discuss this notice with us, please contact me by return
More information about charges under the FOI Act is available on the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner’s website: www.oaic.gov.au.
Authorised AAT Officer