Dear Australian Public Service Commission,
In an article in the Canberra Times of 11 April 2016 headed "Australia's top public servants call for FOI reform to hide advice from public" (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national...), Martin Parkinson, head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet was reported as having made various statements about amendments to the Freedom of Information Act. Broadly, the Canberra Times article claimed that Mr Parkinson had said (a) "The FOI act does not afford sufficient protection to public servants" , (b) "As leaders we need to use exemptions appropriately, but I would support going further and advocating for changes to FOI laws to protect the deliberative process." (c) "[This is] not to reduce our accountability, nor to protect us from stuff ups we may have made, but to enhance the capacity to give truly frank and fearless advice that good policy design needs." The article added that the remarks made by Martin Parkinson "were supported by Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, who said the bureaucracy was subject to sufficient scrutiny and accountability beyond FOI laws. According to the article, John Lloyd said "We have a high level of accountability in the public service with at least three senate hearings a year, an auditor general, ombudsman, privacy commissioner, information commissioner, and a public service commission just to name some".
I would like to know the answer to the following question" "Did the remarks made by John Lloyd reflect (i) Government policy, or (ii) the official position of the Australian Public Service Commission, or (iii) his private personal views?" If it is possible to provide a simple answer to that question under administrative arrangements or through some other avenue, then that would be most convenient, least onerous and probably the most transparently forthright.
If it is not possible to answer that question then please treat this as a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the following: any (single) document created by the Australian Public Service Commission between 1 January 2016 and 11 April 2016 indicating that the reported comments of John Lloyd reflect the official position of the Australian Public Service Commission. If some further limitation is absolutely necessary to avoid a practical refusal decision, I would seek only a document actually created by or for John Lloyd.
Mark R. Diamond
Dear Mr Diamond
Thank you for your email of 14 May 2016 asking whether the remarks made by
the Australian Public Service Commissioner reported in the Canberra Times
article of 11 April 2016 ‘reflect (i) Government policy, or (ii) the
official position of the Australian Public Service Commission, or (iii)
his private personal views?'
In response to your query, the Commissioner has confirmed that the views
he has expressed are his own. Please note that responsibility for the
administration of the FOI Act currently rests with the Attorney-General
(see Administrative Arrangements Orders available at
We trust this information is of assistance. Noting that we have answered
the question raised in your email, we are treating your query as complete
and understand that you do not wish to pursue access to documents under
the FOI Act. However, please let us know if that is not the case.
Australian Public Service Commission
Level 6, Aviation House, 16 Furzer Street, PHILLIP ACT 2606
P: 02 6202 3702 l F: 02 6250 4437
W: www.apsc.gov.au | E: [email address]
Dear Ms Futol,
Thank you very much for the prompt and clear reply. You can certainly treat the application as closed.