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Brittany Higgins and Phil Gaetjens

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Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

I note media reports that the Liberal Party of Australia organised the rape of Brittany Higgins because her partner is or was a Commonwealth public servant and the Liberal Party hates Commonwealth public servants.

Noting that the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet was appointed to that position on the basis of his membership of the Liberal Party of Australia and his close friendship with Scott Morrison, under the FOI Act, I seek a copy of any document contained in the sent folder (current or archived) of Phil Gaetjens’ email client or Mr Gaetjens’ WhatsApp and Signal accounts that contains the word ‘Brittany’. It’s obviously a matter of public interest if the Secretary had any involvement in the organisation, or the covering up, of, a sexual assault.

Thank you!

FOI, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

5 Attachments

OFFICIAL

Dear Ley S

 

Thank you for your email dated 18 February 2021, 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:

 

I seek a copy of any document contained in the sent folder (current or
archived) of Phil Gaetjens’ email client or Mr Gaetjens’ WhatsApp and
Signal accounts that contains the word ‘Brittany’.

 

In addition, we note your request was accompanied by unnecessary and
untrue commentary, as well reference to a serious criminal matter
currently under investigation by the police. The Department does not
accept the commentary and will only respond to you in relation to the FOI
request as outlined above.

 

Timeframe for receiving your decision

 

We received your request on 18 February 2021 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 22 March 2021. 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]https://www.pmc.gov.au/government/depart...,
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

 

For documents that fall within scope of the request, it is the
Department’s policy to withhold:

·       any person’s signature;

·       the names and contact details of Australian Public Service
officers not in the Senior Executive Service (SES);

·       the mobile or direct numbers of SES officers;

·       the names and contact details of Ministerial staff at a level
below Chief of Staff.

 

The names and other details of SES officers will not be withheld unless
there is some reason for that information to be exempt from release. If
you require signatures, the names and contact details of non-SES officers
or Ministerial staff below the level of Chief of Staff, 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 (that
is, the information will be treated as irrelevant and redacted from any
documents for release).

 

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
[4]https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-infor....

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI and Privacy Section | Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

p. (02) 6271 5849

e. [5][DPMC request email] | w. [6]www.pmc.gov.au

One National Circuit Barton ACT 2600 | PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600

[7]cid:image001.jpg@01D30607.6CF4DA00[8]cid:image002.jpg@01D30607.6CF4DA00[9]cid:image003.jpg@01D30607.6CF4DA00[10]cid:image004.jpg@01D30607.6CF4DA00

[11]Title: Reconcilation branding and acknowledgment: The Department
acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia
and their continuing connections to the land, waters and community. We pay
respect to their Cultures, Country and Elders both past and present. -
Description: Reconcilation branding and acknowledgment: The Department
acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia
and their continuing connections to the land, waters and community. We pay
respect to their Cultures, Country and Elders both past and present.

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References

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2. mailto:[DPMC request email]
3. mailto:[DPMC request email]
4. https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-infor...
5. mailto:[DPMC request email]
6. http://www.pmc.gov.au/
7. https://twitter.com/pmc_gov_au
8. https://www.linkedin.com/company/departm...
9. https://twitter.com/indigenous_gov
10. https://www.facebook.com/indigenous.gov....

Dear FOI,

I refer to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s (DPMC) email to me of yesterday acknowledging receipt of my application made under the FOI Act of 18 February 2021. I note the following statement included in DPMC’s email to me as follows:

"we note your request was accompanied by unnecessary and untrue commentary, as well reference to a serious criminal matter currently under investigation by the police. The Department does not accept the commentary and will only respond to you in relation to the FOI request as outlined above."

I have taken that statement as an invitation to provide further submissions to DPMC in support of the veracity of the statements included in my FOI request as well as how those matters go to the public interest in the documents the subject of my request.

As a starting point, while I appreciate the statements contained in my request are inconvenient to DPMC’s political objectives, that doesn’t make them ‘untrue and unnecessary’.

In relation to the Secretary of DPMC, the basis of Mr Gaetjens’ appointment to that position has been widely documented, and is widely understood, as being a result of his close personal friendship with the Prime Minister and of his status as a fellow senior member of the Liberal Party. The nature of his appointment is no different to the approach this Government has taken to the appointment of members of the AAT, statutory officer holders, board members of government business enterprises, other Departmental secretaries and other senior public servants. Nepotism doesn’t constitute an ethical approach upon which to fill positions of public office, but it is the prerogative of the current Government to act unethically, and Australians have come to expect unethical behaviour from this Government.

In respect of the Liberal Party’s rape of Ms Higgins, it is a matter of public record, including as first reported by the chief political correspondent for a free to air television network, that staff from the Prime Minister’s office have been ‘backgrounding’ Liberal party favoured media organisations that the sexual assault of Ms Higgins was the result of her partner being a former DPMC public servant.

Relevantly, and subsequent to my FOI application, the Government has asked Liberal party operatives Mr Phil Gaetjens and Ms Stephanie Foster to ‘investigate’ matters related to the sexual assault of Ms Higgins (including the backgrounding of journalists as engaged in by the Prime Minister’s staff). Those ‘public servants’ have form in ‘investigating’ politically motivated corruption – be it Sports Rorts corruption, the corruption engaged in by John Lloyd or the Robodebt extortion program – and so it’s little wonder they were a favoured choice by this Government to ‘investigate’ these matters.

Regarding my comments as to the Liberal Party’s disdain of public servants – I would have thought that to be axiomatic. Members of Parliament on that side of politics, including the Prime Minister, frequently engage in public commentary that disparages and deprecates public servants. As do Liberal and National Party affiliated far right groups such as the Institute of Public Affairs and the Sonnenkrieg Division who also regularly engage in public commentary that vilifies, derides and otherwise pours scorn on public servants.

In relation to my statement that ‘it’s obviously a matter of public interest if the Secretary had any involvement in the organisation, or the covering up, of, a sexual assault’ – that’s an incontrovertible truth. Again, while I appreciate acknowledgement of that fact is politically inconvenient, it is plainly in the public interest if Mr Gaetjens, being a close friend and keen political ally of the Prime Minister, holds documents indicating that he had any knowledge of or involvement in the organisation, or the covering up, of, a sexual assault. Indeed, noting the Prime Minister’s claims around his knowledge of the rape of Ms Higgins, and when that knowledge came into being, it’s clearly in the public interest if the documents tend to show that the Prime Minister has lied. As DPMC relevantly notes, my request partially relates to a serious criminal matter currently under investigation by the police. That investigation commenced after I had lodged my request and so it is plainly in the public interest if Mr Gaetjens is in possession of documents that fall within the terms of my request because those documents will relate to a politically motivated serious criminal offence. Accordingly, if DPMC refuses access to those documents in reliance on s.37 of the FOI Act or imposes charges in respect of locating, compiling, redacting and deciding relevant documents - that will necessarily implicate Mr Gaetjens.

I am deeply concerned that DPMC, on behalf of the Liberal Party, has apparently already determined that clear public interest factors favouring the release of the documents are ‘unnecessary’ and won’t be taken into consideration (as required by law) in the making of a decision on my request. That leads me to another relevant matter in respect of my request and DPMC’s preliminary response to it – DPMC’s record of compliance with its obligations under the FOI Act. It is a matter of public record that under Ms Foster’s and Ms Moran’s leadership of the DPMC’s FOI processing function, that DPMC has repeatedly been found to have engaged in systemic and politically motivated contraventions of the FOI Act (ie. corruption). See here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-ne... and here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-ne... . Further, DPMC’s access refusal decisions in respect of documents that are mildly politically inconvenient for the Liberal Party are regularly overturned on independent review by the Information Commissioner. It is a statement of fact that DPMC has led the charge, on behalf of the LNP Government, to effectively render the FOI Act unenforceable and useless. DPMC have engaged in these actions because the concepts of transparency and accountability that underlie the FOI Act are politically inconvenient when running the most corrupt Government administration in Australia’s history. In effect, DPMC conducts its FOI processing function as if it were a PR consultancy for the Liberal Party.

It’s telling that despite the commentary in my request being directed towards unethical activities of the Liberal Party, that DPMC, a theoretically apolitical, independent and ethical Commonwealth agency, considers it appropriate to challenge that commentary on behalf of the Liberal Party. That DPMC thinks it is incumbent upon itself and moreover, appropriate, to go out of its way to actively defend the actions of the Liberal Party, speaks volumes as to how politicised, partisan and corrupt the once respected central agency has become. I remind DPMC officers of their legal obligations to act honestly, apolitically, transparently and ethically - values that DPMC has disregarded in recent years.

I anticipate that I will be required to provide additional factual and relevant information in response to an anticipated charges or access refusal decision by DPMC - I stand ready and waiting to do so.

6 Attachments

Our reference: RQ21/00684

Agency reference: FOI/2021/021

S Ley

 

Sent by email: [1][FOI #7093 email]

Extension of time under s 15AB

Dear S Ley

Please find attached a decision of today’s date.

 

Kind regards,

 

[2][IMG]   Avanithah Selvarajah  |  Review and
Investigations Adviser (Legal)
(A/g)

Freedom of information

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |
 [3]oaic.gov.au

+61 2 9284 9625 | 
[4][email address]
[9]Subscribe to
[5]Facebook | [6]LinkedIn | [7]Twitter |   [8]Subscribe icon Information
Matters

 

 

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FOI, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

4 Attachments

OFFICIAL

FOI/2021/021

 

Dear Ley S

 

Please find attached the decision and the schedule in relation to your
request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

 

Yours sincerely

 

FOI Adviser

FOI and Privacy Section| Legal Policy Branch

Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

[1]http://www.dcducks.com/wp-content/themes...
6271 5849 |
[2]http://cdn.mysitemyway.com/icons-waterma... request email]
|
[4]https://www.musicianswithoutborders.org/...

One National Circuit Barton ACT 2600 | PO Box 6500 CANBERRA ACT 2600

 

 

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Ley S please sign in and let everyone know.