Australia's Worst White-Collar Crime

Phillip Sweeney made this Freedom of Information request to Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

From: Phillip Sweeney

Delivered

Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

I am lodging a request for documents pursuant the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

The document I seek includes the words on the front page "Australia's Worst White-Collar Crime How the Prime Minister can prove the Fraud"

The search period is from 19 December 2014 inclusive

Yours faithfully,

Phillip Sweeney

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From: FOI
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

UNCLASSIFIED For Official Use Only
Good morning Mr Sweeney

I refer to your email dated 22 December 2015. Your email is set out below.

The right of access under the Freedom of Information Act can only be exercised with a valid request. The Department can only act on requests for access where the requests comply with the requirements as set out in section 15 of the FOI Act. That includes the applicant providing information reasonably necessary to enable documents sought to be identified (s15(2)(b)).

As your email does not provide information reasonably necessary to enable documents sought to be identified, it is not a valid request and cannot be processed.

Please can you resubmit your request with such further detail as would enable the documents sought to be identified.

FOI Adviser
Legal Policy Branch
Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet p. 02 6271 5849 e. [DPMC request email]

The Department acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to their elders both past and present.

Please note that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will cease normal business for the Christmas-New Year period from Thursday 25 December 2014 to Thursday 1 January 2015 inclusively, and will resume normal business on Friday 2 January 2015.

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From: Phillip Sweeney

Delivered

Dear FOI,

The document I am seeking was attached to a letter dated 17 December 2014 addressed to the Prime Minister that was received by the Department on 22 December 2014. The letter was headed "Australia's Worst White-Collar Crime".

Attached to this letter was also a copy of the policy statement of the Australian Labor Party which PROMISES 100% compensation to members and beneficiaries of large superannuation funds who suffer a loss due to theft or fraudulent conduct by the Trustee of their fund.

Also attached to this letter were copies of the following documents:
- How the Commonwealth Attorney-General can prove the Fraud
- How the Secretary of The Treasury can prove the Fraud
- How the Chairman of ASIC can prove the Fraud
- How the CEO of the Australian Crime Commission can prove the Fraud
- How the Australian Federal Police can prove the Fraud
- Evidence Sourced from the Parliament of South Australia

Yours sincerely,

Phillip Sweeney

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From: FOI
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


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UNCLASSIFIED

FOI/2014/225

 

Dear Mr Sweeney

 

Thank you for your email dated 24 December 2014, received by the
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department), in which
you made a request to the Department under the Freedom of Information Act
1982 (the FOI Act) in the following terms:

 

The document I am seeking was attached to a letter dated 17 December 2014
addressed to the Prime Minister that was received by the Department on 22
December 2014. The letter was headed "Australia's Worst White-Collar
Crime".

 

Attached to this letter was also a copy of the policy statement of the
Australian Labor Party which PROMISES 100% compensation to members and
beneficiaries of large superannuation funds who suffer a loss due to theft
or fraudulent conduct by the Trustee of their fund.

 

Also attached to this letter were copies of the following documents:

- How the Commonwealth Attorney-General can prove the Fraud

- How the Secretary of The Treasury can prove the Fraud

- How the Chairman of ASIC can prove the Fraud

- How the CEO of the Australian Crime Commission can prove the Fraud

- How the Australian Federal Police can prove the Fraud

- Evidence Sourced from the Parliament of South Australia

 

Timeframe for receiving your decision

 

We received your request on 24 December 2014 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 23 January 2015. 
The period of 30 days may be extended in certain circumstances.  We will
advise you if there is any extension of time.

 

Charges

 

Agencies may decide that an applicant is liable to pay a charge in respect
of a request for access to documents. If the Department decides that you
are liable to pay a charge, we will send you a preliminary assessment of
the charge as soon as possible.

 

Publication of documents

 

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be
published online on our disclosure log at
[1]http://www.dpmc.gov.au/foi/ips/disclosur..., subject to
certain exceptions. If you think you might wish to raise any objections to
the publication of any of the information which may be released to you
please contact us by email at [2][DPMC request email].  If you do wish to object
to the publication of information, you would need to provide supporting
reasons.

 

Exclusion of officers’ names and contact details

 

It is the Department’s policy to withhold the names and contact details of
officers not in the Senior Executive Service (SES) as well as the mobile
or direct numbers of SES officers within the Department and other agencies
contained within documents that fall within scope of the request. The
names and other details of departmental or agency SES officers will not be
withheld unless there is some reason for that information to be exempt
from release. If you require the names and contact details of non-SES
officers or the mobile or direct numbers of SES officers please let us
know at [3][DPMC request email] so the decision-maker may consider; otherwise we
will take it that you agree to that information being excluded from the
scope of your request.

 

We will write again when the Department has more information.  Further
information on FOI processing can be found at the website of the Office of
the Australian Information Commissioner at
[4]http://www.oaic.gov.au/foi-portal/about_....

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI Adviser

Access and Administrative Review Section | Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

p. 02 6271 5849

e. [5][DPMC request email]

[6]www.pmc.gov.au

PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600

[7]Description: Description: Description: FOI design element

Please note that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will
cease normal business for the Christmas-New Year period from Thursday 25
December 2014 to Thursday 1 January 2015 inlcusively, and will resume
normal business on Friday 2 January 2015.

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.dpmc.gov.au/foi/ips/disclosur...
2. mailto:[DPMC request email]
3. mailto:[DPMC request email]
4. http://www.oaic.gov.au/foi-portal/about_...
5. mailto:[DPMC request email]
6. http://www.pmc.gov.au/

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From: FOI
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


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UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon,

 

I’m writing in relation to your FOI request with the Department of the
Prime Minister and Cabinet – reference FOI/2014/225.

 

The due date for the decision on your FOI request is tomorrow,
23 January 2015. Regrettably, the Department is not in a position to
finalise the decision tomorrow. In accordance with section 15AA of the FOI
Act, we are seeking your consent to a brief 5-day extension of time to the
processing period until next Wednesday, 28 January 2015 in which to
finalise the decision on your request.

 

We kindly request you confirm your consent to the extension by way of
return email.

 

Regards

 

Adviser

Access and Administrative Review Section | Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

p. 02 6271 5849

e. [1][email address]

[2]www.dpmc.gov.au | [3]www.indigenous.gov.au

PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600

 

[4]Description: Description: Description: FOI design element

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.dpmc.gov.au/
3. http://www.indigenous.gov.au/

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From: Phillip Sweeney

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I consent to an extension as requested

Yours sincerely,

Phillip Sweeney

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From: FOI
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


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Attachment FOI 2014 225 Decision package.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Sweeney,

 

Please see attached the decision in relation to your FOI request with the
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet – reference: FOI/2014/225.

 

As noted in the decision, the document for release will be sent to your
postal address by registered post.

 

Regards

 

Adviser

Access and Administrative Review Section | Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

p. 02 6271 5849

e. [1][email address]

[2]www.dpmc.gov.au | [3]www.indigenous.gov.au

PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600

 

[4]Description: Description: Description: FOI design element

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.dpmc.gov.au/
3. http://www.indigenous.gov.au/

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From: Phillip Sweeney

Delivered

Dear Alison Green,
A/g Assistant Secretary

Thank you for the response to the FOI request. Can you please post the released documents on the FOI Disclosure Log of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet pursuant to Section 11C of the FOI Act.

A number of my colleagues also have an interest in this matter and posting of the released documents will avoid the need to respond to multiple requests for these documents.

Yours sincerely,

Phillip Sweeney

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

The applicant has been successful in his request and wishes to make more widely available the documents to which he has obtained access. He asks the agency to "post the released documents on the FOI Disclosure Log of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet pursuant to Section 11C of the FOI Act." Unfortunately, the applicant does not have an enforceable right under section 11C and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet might choose not to publish the documents on its website. It would be sufficient for the purposes of the Act for the Department to do what is required with section 11C(3)(c) which says that "the agency, or the Minister, must publish the information to members of the public generally on a website by (a) ..., or (b) ..., or (c) publishing on the website other details of how the information may be obtained." Some Australian government departments have now a reputation not to make documents available for downloading and to make the public ask for each document. In my mind this is not a policy that keeps with the objects of the FOI Act but it is a policy that is legal."

The applicant has a better option.

When the applicant made his request to the Department of Prime Minister and cabinet, the Right to Know website would have appended a statement to say that the electronic email address at Right to Know is the the address that is required by section 15(2)(c) of the Act. What it means is that the Department is required to send notices to the electronic address. Yes, it can send them to some other place with the agreement of the applicant but without the agreement then properly to give access to the document, the Department must send the copies to the address of 15(2)(c); in this case, it is to the Right to Know website address. I cannot see why in the email (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/a... the Department has decided to send documents to a postal address.

The requirement to send notices to the address stated in section 15(2)(c) can be enforced by the applicant. Also it has the immediate benefit to make the documents available for any person to download (from Right to Know) even if the Department wishes to comply with section 11C only by explaining on its own website how a person can get the documents. Also, a person can be sure that Right to Know will not remove the documents from its website. That is not also true of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. They could put the documents on the the website today, and meet with section 11C(3)(a), but tomorrow decide that it does not like to publish the documents and replace them with a notice that complies with section 11C(3)(c).

So a person can see that it is much better for the applicant if the documents be put directly on Right to Know. Then it is of less consequence in what manner the Department chooses to meet up to the demands of section 11C.

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Phillip Sweeney left an annotation ()

Dear Locutus Sum
You have made a good point. Some agencies comply with the spirit as well as the letter of the law (some after a little encouragement.) The Australian Crime Commission (ACC)is now complying with its obligations under the FOI Act after I got the Australian Information Commissioner involved.

You may wish to visit the disclosure log of the ACC and review some of the material that has been posted.

Regards

Phillip Sweeney

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

To say it at the beginning, in my mind it is most desirable that all agencies should make disclosed documents available for downloading from their website. When an agency does this, it will not only satisfy the legal obligations that agencies have under section 11C(3) (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/c... of the Freedom of Information Act but it also is making it easy for any person to obtain the documents. When an agency satisfies section 11C(3) by satisfying paragraph (c) "publishing on the website other details of how the information may be obtained", I agree that it is not as desirable (in my opinion) as when they make the information available to download.

Yet it is not obvious that the decision of an agency to satisfy the requirements of section 11C by publishing information about how a disclosed document can be obtained, instead of by making the document available for download, would satisfy only the letter of the law and not the objects or the spirit. It is true that the spirit is clarity and transparency but there are many reasons for an agency to use 11C(3)(c) instead of 11C(3)(a). It is interesting for a person to read the submissions that many agencies made in the consultation on disclosure logs (http://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-inform.... The Australian Crime Commission made a submission for itself (http://www.oaic.gov.au/images/documents/....

A person can see more about this subject in an annotation that I made in 2014 about this subject (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/2....

Also, when I have looked now at the guidance that the Australian Information Commissioner has published on the website for the subject of disclosure logs (http://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-inform..., I can see that there is no emphasis by the OAIC for an agency to use 11C(3)(a) [downloading] instead of 11C(3)(a). So in this also, I can see that my opinion of how desirable it is to make documents available to download, is not the same as the opinion of the FOI Commissioner.

Last, I now have looked at the review submissions about FOI that many agencies and persons make to the review by Dr Hawke (http://www.ag.gov.au/consultations/pages... there were different opinions. He is not, I think, from Right to Know but submission by Mr Craig Thomler is interesting because it speaks of consistency with the structure of disclosure logs so that information can be harvested automatically from all disclosure logs and put on an independent website.

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Phillip Sweeney left an annotation ()

Dear Locutus Sum
Thank you for the lead on the Hawke Report.

I have downloaded a copy.

Other FOI Applicants should also download a copy as it is a useful guide

Regards

Phillip Sweeney

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