Australians for Honest Politics

Margo Kingston made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Electoral Commission

The request was partially successful.

From: Margo Kingston

Delivered

Dear Australian Electoral Commission

This is a new request for documents due to the deemed lapse of my last one on this matter.

I request the documents you advised met the terms of my last request as amended. I also request waiver or remission of fees in accordance with my submissions in the last application.

I thought I's already made a new request but it doesn't appear on Right to Know so maybe it didn't get through. If it did, please process that one.

I also repeat my request for the schedule you compiled, and my question whether the result of your search found no file note of my conversation with Mr Hallett on Mr Abbott's alleged misinformation on his legal advice in his 1998 letter to you, or reference to my allegations as published in the SMH and in my book.

Yours faithfully,

Margo Kingston

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Australian Electoral Commission

Thank you for contacting us.

This is an automatic response from the Australian Electoral Commission to confirm we have received your email.

For more information on enrolling to vote, federal elections or the AEC, visit www.aec.gov.au.

Please do not respond to this email.

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From: Legal Services - NO
Australian Electoral Commission


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For-Official-Use-Only

Dear Ms Kingston

I refer to your request for access to documents relating to Australians
for Honest Politics Trust (the ‘Trust’) under the [1]Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act). I have taken your request to be for:

1.     all documents mentioning or referring to the assertion by Mr Abbott
in his 1998 letter that he had sought legal advice before seeking
donations to the Trust, and all documents mentioning or referring to
allegations later made publicly (in 2003& 2004, and again in 2007) that
that statement was untrue;

2.     the schedule compiled in relation to your request under the FOI Act
numbered LS4451; and

3.     the file note of your conversation with Mr Hallett in relation to
an earlier request under the FOI Act about the Trust

Please confirm that you do not seek the release of any document that has
previously been provided to you under the FOI Act.

We received your request on 10 May 2013 and the 30 day statutory period
for processing your request commenced from the day after that date. You
should therefore expect a decision from us by 10 June 2013. The period of
30 days may be extended if we need to consult third parties, impose a
charge or for other reasons. We will advise you if this happens.

You will be notified of any charges in relation to your request as soon as
possible, before we process any requested documents or impose a final
charge. Your request that the charges be waived or remitted will be
considered at that time and you will have the opportunity to explain the
grounds that you rely on in making that request.

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be
published online on our disclosure log at
[2]http://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/foi/foi...., subject to certain
exceptions. (For example, personal information will not be published where
this would be unreasonable.)

We will contact you using the email address that you provided. I note that
we do not have a telephone number at which you may be contacted about the
request. Please advise if you would prefer us to use an alternative means
of contact. If you have any questions, please contact me. My contact
details appear below the signature block of this email.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6271 4457

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[3]Australian Electoral Commission logo [4]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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From: Margo Kingston

Delivered

Dear Legal Services,

Oh dear. No, I did not ask for 3. because such a file note would have come under our agreed form of words for my last request, yes? I was just repeating the unanswered question I asked in my previous FOI so when I write a piece on this matter I can be 100% confident that there is no written record of my phone call or published work on the veracity of Mr Abbott's 1998 letter.

I asked for 2. because your decision indicated that you had compiled a schedule.

So yes, 1 and 2 are correct. I don't know what to make of 3 - can you clarify?

Why do I need to confirm that I don't want any document you've previously given me? You advised in your decision to my last request that only one document came under my request, and you never gave me that one. I can confirm that I don't want any document released to the relevant Parliamentary committee for publication. .

Yours sincerely,

Margo Kingston

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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For-Official-Use-Only

Dear Ms Kingston

I enclose a scanned copy of the letter dated 31 May 2013 from Mr Paul
Pirani, Chief Legal Officer about this matter

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6271 4457

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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From: Margo Kingston

Delivered

Dear Mr Jones,

This request is in the exact terms of my last request, as amended, namely:

-- all documents mentioning or referring to the assertion by Mr
Abbott in his 1998 letter that he had sought legal advice before
seeking donations to the Trust, and all documents mentioning or
referring to allegations later made publicly (in 2003& 2004, and
again in 2007) that that statement was untrue.

In addition, I am asking for the schedule you compiled re my last request.

As for any file note by Mr Hallett, I have not asked for that specifically because if it existed it would have been disclosed in answer to my previous request. In view of the apparent confusion, I withdraw my request for confirmation that documents disclosed in my last request means there is no AEC record of my allegation made by phone to Mr Hallett, in a contemporaneous piece on Webdiary http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/21852/2004...
and in my books Not happy, John in 2004 and Still not happy, John in 2007 (the relevant chapter is here http://www.independentaustralia.net/Word... I did this, on advice, to be 100 percent sure there is no AEC record of my allegation, but have since been advised that the terms of my amended request as repeated above ensure that I can write that with confidence without an assurance by you.

As in my previous request, I don't want media reports or FOI request by anyone else.

It seems strange that you have to repeat your third party consultation since you have already done so, but there you go.

I'm so confused by this process that I don't want to say whether or not the request is substantially the same as my 2004 one because I don't understand why you are asking the question and am afraid to ask.

In an attempt to speed things up, I repeat below my reasons why the fees you calculated in my last request, which will presumably be the same in this one, should be remitted or waived.

My reasons for seeking a remission of fees are:

* You have charged the same amount as for my 2004 request, which
you have decided was substantially the same. However the charging
regime has changed since 2004, and I question whether you have
taken the changes into account.

* It is unreasonable that you prepared a schedule of documents when you estimated that only 5 percent of the documents on file were
relevant. I therefore request that your charge of $530 be remitted.
A glance at most files would have shown they were not relevant, and
the Act requires that the decision maker act in the most efficient
and practical way possible. Since you have prepared a schedule I
ask that it be released to me.

* You have charged $60 for three hours of decision making. My
understanding is that under the Act the first 5 hours of decision
making are free.

My reasons for disagreeing with your decision not to waive fees
are:

* The reason that I did not pursue my 2004 request was that the AEC
communicated its decision after the deadline for my book had
passed. I noted in my book that the AEC had failed to meet its
legal deadlines for processing several FOI requests, without
explanation. You are therefore incorrect to state that that I had
circumvented the Act’s requirements by renewing my application
after it had lapsed ‘to avoid paying charges imposed on the giving
of access’. In fact, I made my current request in response to Mr
Abbott’s allegations that the Prime Minister had showed bad
character in her dealings with the AWU slush fund.

* The public interest in this matter is not about whether the AEC
should have taken action about Mr Abbott’s statements in his 1998
letter as you suggest. It is about the honesty and credibility of
Mr Abbott, which is a key issue in the forthcoming federal
election.

* The issue of financial gain does not arise in this request
because I have not made it for a book or other commercial purpose.

* I will suffer financial hardship if I have to pay, as I have
minimal income and am living off my savings.

Yours sincerely,

Margo Kingston

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From: Margo Kingston

Delivered

Dear Owen Jones,

Hi. Right to know advises that a response is overdue. When can expect a decision? Keen to finalise quickly - request in same terms as last one!!

Yours sincerely,

Margo Kingston

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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For-Official-Use-Only

Dear Ms Kingston

I refer to your email of 10 July 2013 4:54 PM about this matter. You would
have seen by the out of office message that was automatically sent that I
was away on sick leave.

I will ascertain the current position with your FOI request and provide a
response as soon as is possible.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6271 4457

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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Attachment LS4640 Letter to M Kingson 20130725.pdf
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Sensitive:Legal

Dear Ms Kingston

I enclose a scanned copy of a letter dated today to you from Paul Pirani,
Chief Legal Officer notifying you of the decision made about your FOI
Request.

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6271 4457

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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From: Margo Kingston

Delivered

Dear Owen Jones,

May I take it from your letter that you have denied my request for remission or waiver of fees?

Am I able to pay the fees you require and still seek a review of your fees decision?

Yours sincerely,

Margo Kingston

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From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


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Attachment LS4640 Annexure 1 Document No 1 redacted.pdf Adobe Acrobat Pro.pdf
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Attachment LS4640 Annexure 1 Document No 12.pdf
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For-Official-Use-Only

Dear Ms Kingston

I refer to the Chief Legal Officer’s letter to you dated 25 July 2013
notifying you of his decision in relation to your request.

There has been no request to review the decision by the person consulted
about your request. I therefore enclose the documents authorised for
release under that decision, namely:

Document No Folio Description Date Recommendation and
Decision
File 04/869 Legal Services – Compliance – Legal requirements – Tony Abbott
– Australians for Honest Politics Trust – Question of Associated Entity
1 320-321 Letter from Tony 8/6/2004 This is relevant. The
Abbott MHR to Andy answers give
Becker, Electoral information about Mr.
Commissioner Abbott’s business
affairs and his
This is replicated by personal information.
folios 141-142 of
file 04/1376 It would be
unreasonable to give
access to a facsimile
of Mr. Abbott’s
signature.

I have decided to
grant access to this
document with the
facsimile of the
signature of Mr. Abbott
redacted.
File 13/387 Information Management - Cases - Freedom of Information (FOI)
- Request - Margo Kingston - Tony Abbott and Australians for Honest
Politics Trust
12   Schedule of Documents   I have decided to grant
in relation to your access to this
Freedom of document.
Information Request
No. LS4451

 

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

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