Airsoft in the defence force

Mark Mildenhall made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Defence

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Dear Department of Defence,

I would like to request information on Airsoft usage in Australia's defence force. The major points that I would like to know are how long has Airsoft been used in Australian defence force, For what purposes has it been used in the defence force and why the defence force has chosen Airsoft as opposed to forms of paintball or simunition projectiles

Yours faithfully,

Mark Mildenhall

FOI, Department of Defence


Good morning

Thank you for your email. Your email has been forwarded for consideration/action.

Kind regards

FOI Operations
(02) 62662200

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Matthews, Venessa MS, Department of Defence


Good afternoon Mr Mildenhall,

Thank you for your e-mail in relation to Airsoft in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Unfortunately your request, in its current form, is not considered to be a valid Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Under the provisions of the FOI Act, we are required to provide documents not information. In this instance, you have asked a series of questions in relation to the use of Airsoft in the ADF. If you wish to seek access to documents and proceed with an FOI request we would ask that you provide more details in relation to the specific documents you are seeking, including a date range. This will enable our office to identify the documents and enable proper searches to be conducted within our Department.

If you have not resubmitted your request to our office by Tuesday 04 October 2016, no further action will be taken and your matter will be deemed to be complete.

If you require any further assistance, please contact our office by telephone on 02 626 62200 or via e-mail at [email address].


FOI Operations
(02) 62662200

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Monck, Adam MR, Department of Defence

1 Attachment


Good morning Mr Mildenhall
Please find attached a Notice of Preliminary Assessment of Charges
relating to your FOI Request 097/16/17.
Adam Monck
Case Manager, Freedom of Information
Information Management and Access
Governance and Reform Division
Department of Defence
PO Box 7910 Canberra ACT 2610
(02) 6266 2912

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Verity Pane left an annotation ()

The agency's statement "Under the provisions of the FOI Act, we are required to provide documents not information" is somewhat misleading given s 17 does provide an mechanism to obtain information from documents held, if it is reasonably possible to compile this information based off existing records in the agency's possession, into a discrete document.

But beside that aside, an FOI request can be described quite broadly and must be read fairly by an agency, and it would be unlawful for an agency to be deliberately obtuse, narrow or pedantic with its comprehension of said request [refer Re Anderson and AFP [1986] AATA 79 and Young v Wicks (1986) 79 ALR 448]. An applicant may describe a class of documents, or all documents of a specified class that contain information of a particular kind, or all documents held that mention a particular subject or person, and that is sufficient for the purposes of an FOI application.

It is clear from the FOI request made that the applicant is seeking documents about Airsoft, and this is sufficient information with which to locate documents that may be of relevance.

However, as it currently stands, the Applicant's request may run afoul of a practical refusal ground, as the work involved in processing the request would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its other operations (s 24AA(1)(a)(i)), because the Applicant has left the period of records to be searched open ended.

The Applicant may wish to look to a discrete time period, which will not only avoid such practical refusal grounds, but also prevent unreasonable preliminary charges being sought. Maybe suggest they just search Objective using the term "Airsoft" for a reasonable narrow timeframe? That should not involve significant processing time.

Verity Pane left an annotation ()

Given the vast bulk of the preliminary estimate of charges is for "assessing" the documents sought (the agency only estimates 2 hours to conduct the search), it may be worth asking if the agency could do the search first, produce a schedule of documents from it, and then - before any assessment by the agency takes place of the documents within scope - you could just specify what documents you are interested in, and thereby reduce the number the agency needs to assess for exemption/release/etc.

It may also be worth asking if the assessing of documents could be reasonably carried out by a less senior officer (as the hourly charge seems very high here). Agencies often quote based on quite senior officers doing this task, when practically this is not reasonably required to be carried out at such senior APS grades.