ONE NATIONAL CIRCUIT
INTERNAL REVIEW DECISION AND REASONS
UNDER SECTION 54 OF
THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1982
Mr Francis Unmeopa
DECISION BY: John Reid PSM
First Assistant Secretary
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr Unmeopa
I refer to your request of 9 August 2020, seeking internal review of the decision (the primary
) made on 3 August 2020 by Mr Peter Rush, Assistant Secretary, Parliamentary and
Government Branch, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department
relation to your request, dated 3 July 2020 for access under the Freedom of Information Act
(the FOI Act
) to the following:
In early 2012 the assistant secretary of Honours and Awards oversaw the production
of a document titled.
"Amendment of Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal (Iraq) Declaration 2004 to
extend to specified commercial contractors”
I respectfully request a copy of that document please.
The primary decision refused access, in full, to two documents (the requested documents
identified within the scope of your request, on the basis they contained information that was
conditionally exempt under the following provisions of the FOI Act, and its disclosure would
be contrary to the public interest:
• section 47C of the FOI Act (deliberative material);
• section 47E(d) of the FOI Act (proper and efficient operations of an agency); and
• section 47G of the FOI Act (business information).
Postal Address: PO Box 6500, CANBERRA ACT 2600
Telephone: +61 2 6271 5849 Fax: +61 2 6271 5776 www.pmc.gov.au ABN: 18 108 001 191
link to page 2
Under section 54(2) of the FOI Act, an applicant is entitled to apply for an internal review of a
decision refusing to give access to a document in accordance with a request.
In your request for internal review, you stated that:
Mr Rush claims the main factor against disclosure is his view that such disclosure
would affect his Department’s ability to provide comprehensive advice to
Government. However Freedom of Information Guidelines state that the public
expects agencies and ministers to act fairly, transparently and consistently in their
administrative decision-making and to be accountable for the decisions they make.
The public is entitled to expect evidence and submissions will be properly considered.
Disclosure in this case will allow reasonable public scrutiny to ensure that the process
and decisions were reasonably predicated on all relevant evidence.
Mr Rush’s claims that disclosure could be expected to adversely affect the business or
commercial interests of third parties is an unsubstantiated opinion that runs contrary
to the facts. As noted, the commercial organisation in question supported the concept
of its personnel being awarded civilian operational service recognition for their
service with the Australian contingent to the rehabilitation program in Iraq. The
Commonwealth Government agency involved also supported the concept, as did the
member of the public whose efforts led to the production of the document titled
“amendment of humanitarian overseas service medal (Iraq) declaration 2004 to
extend to specified commercial contractors”. The name of the organisation being
considered has been disclosed publicly since at least 2004.
Authorised decision maker
Section 54C(2) of the FOI Act provides that an agency must arrange for a person (other than
the person who made the original decision) to review the decision.
I am authorised to make this decision in accordance with arrangements approved by the
Department’s Secretary under section 23 of the FOI Act.
Internal review decision
I have decided to affirm the primary decision.
In reaching my decision, I have had regard to:
• the terms of your request;
• the requested documents;
• the primary decision;
• your request for internal review;
• the FOI Act; and
• the ‘Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under section 93A
of the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(the FOI Guidelines
1 FOI Guidelines combined November 2019 published on the web site of the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner at https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/foi-guidelines/.
I have carefully reviewed the requested documents, as well as the exemptions claimed in the
primary decision, and the reasons for those exemptions.
The public interest test requires me to weigh the factors in favour of disclosure against the
factors that do not favour disclosure of the documents.
I note that the primary decision-maker already acknowledged that there were two factors in
favour of disclosure, namely that disclosure would promote the objects of the FOI Act and
improve public oversight and scrutiny of government decision making.
I have considered the factors against disclosure which were relied upon by the primary
decision-maker. I have also considered your submissions in your request for internal review,
and am not persuaded that they are sufficient to tilt the balance towards disclosure of the
I am satisfied that the primary decision remains the correct and preferable decision, and I
agree with the primary decision-maker’s findings and the reasons underpinning those
Accordingly, I adopt and affirm those findings and reasons as my own for the purposes of this
internal review. Review rights
Information about your rights of review under the FOI Act is available at https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/reviews-and-complaints/.
You may make a complaint to the Information Commissioner about the Department’s actions
in relation to this request. Making a complaint about the way the Department has handled an
FOI request is a separate process to seeking review of the Department’s decision. Further
information about how to make a complaint is available at https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-
First Assistant Secretary
8 September 2020