Copy of public interest certificates

Justin Warren made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Human Services

Department of Human Services did not have the information requested.

From: Justin Warren

Delivered

Dear Department of Human Services,

If possible, please treat this as an informal or administrative request. Otherwise, please treat this as a formal request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).

I request a copy of all Public Interest Certificates (PICs) granted by the Secretary (or their delegate) under section 208 of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (the SSA Act) in the period from 1 June 2016 to 1 March 2017, inclusive.

Yours faithfully,

Justin Warren

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From: Justin Warren

Delivered

Dear Department of Human Services,

I wish to clarify my request for the avoidance of doubt.

Rather than all certificates granted under section 208 of the SSA Act, by Public Interest Certificate I refer to those certificates granted under section 208 subsection 1 (a) of the SSA Act.

Yours faithfully,

Justin Warren

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


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Attachment LEX 27960 Consultation 24AB notice.pdf
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Dear Mr Warren

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your Freedom of
Information request (LEX 27960).

 

Regards

 

FOI Legal Team

FOI and Litigation Branch | Legal Services Division

Department of Human Services

* [1][email address]

 

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From: Justin Warren

Delivered

Dear FOI.LEGAL.TEAM,

This is a surprisingly high figure.

By my calculations, in the quite limited date range I specified, that would mean the Secretary is authorising the release of protected information because it is in the public interest to do so roughly 54 times a day, 7 days a week.

And that's just under the really quite narrow definition of Section 208 (1) (a) of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (the Act) rather than the full scope of subsection (1).

Perhaps you could check that this is indeed the case?

If the volume of certificates really is this large, I'd appreciate some further information on some sort of category list of logical groupings for the certificates if there is one. Presumably there is some sort of systematic reason this much information needs to be released in the public interest?

Yours sincerely,

Justin Warren

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


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Dear Mr Warren

 

Thank you for your email.

 

Section 208(1)(a) concerns the release of information in the public
interest. Our records indicate that a total of 8194 public interest
releases were performed under section 208(1)(a) of the Social Security
(Administration) Act 1999 between the dates of 1 June 2016 to 1 March 2017
(inclusive).

 

Releases were made in the following classes of cases:

 

·       Enforcement of Laws;

·       Threat to life, health, or welfare of a Person;

·       Missing persons;

·       Deceased persons;

·       Reparations;

·       Child protection agencies;

·       Research and statistical analysis.

 

We acknowledge that the total number of certificates is less than
originally stated in our correspondence of 8 March 2017. This is because
the total number of public interest releases was identified during
preliminary searches conducted by the relevant business area. Categorising
the total number of certificates and limiting them has involved
significant work for the department, however we have decided to provide
you with this information so that you can make an informed decision in
revising the scope of your request.

 

Although this revised figure represents a reduction in the total number of
documents within scope, your request remains voluminous. The department
would need to engage with numerous third-parties regarding the release of
the personal or business information present on those 8194 certificates.
This level consultation would unreasonably divert the resources of the
department. Please note, even if you were to exclude third party
information from the scope of your request, processing in excess of 8000
pages of documents would also constitute an unreasonable diversion of the
resources of the agency. Please consider these matters when formulating
your revision.

 

As the formal consultation period expires today, the department
anticipates your prompt response.

 

Regards

 

FOI Legal Team

FOI and Litigation Branch | Legal Services Division

Department of Human Services

* [1][email address]

 

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This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal
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received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately
and permanently delete this email.

 

 

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From: Justin Warren

Delivered

Dear FOI.LEGAL.TEAM,

I am happy to adjust my request to just those documents that authorised the release of information under section 208(1)(a) of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/c... between the dates of 1 June 2016 to 1 March 2017 (inclusive) that are classed under Social Security (Public Interest Certificate Guidelines) (DSS) Determination 2015 section 10 (Mistake of fact) (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F...

Yours sincerely,

Justin Warren

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


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Attachment LEX 28805 Registration Acknowledgement letter.pdf
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Dear Mr Warren

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your Freedom of
Information request.

 

Regards

 

FOI Legal Team

FOI and Litigation Branch | Legal Services Division

Department of Human Services

* [1][email address]

 

[2]Description: Description: Description: Description: Description:
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This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal
professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or
confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are
prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have
received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately
and permanently delete this email.

 

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From: Justin Warren

Delivered

Dear FOI.LEGAL.TEAM,

Please pass this on to whoever conducts internal reviews of FOI requests.

I contend that the Department has not fulfilled its obligations under of the Freedom on Information Act (the FOI Act). I draw your attention to these facts:

- The notice required by s24AB(2) of the FOI Act was sent to me on 8 March 2017, advising me that the Department intended to refuse my request because a practical refusal reason existed.
- I responded to this notice on 9 March 2017, triggering the requirements of s24AB(3) of the FOI Act.
- The Department did not respond to my request for information to assist me to revise my request, as required by s24AB(4)(b) of the FOI Act, until the final day of the consultation period, 23 March 2017.
- I responded to the Department's 23 March 2017 letter, revising my request, on 24 March 2017. You took this to be outside of the consultation period and treated my request as withdrawn.

I contend that the Department has not provided a valid notice as defined by s24AB(2) of the FOI Act:
- s24AB(2)(c) requires that the name of the contact person be included in the notice. No such name was provided.
- s24AB(2)(d) requires that details of how the contact person may be contacted are included in the notice. Paragraph 18 in 'AP' and Department of Human Services [2013] AICmr 78 (25 October 2013) http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/A... makes clear that providing the generic contact details for the department are not sufficient to fulfill this requirement. I contend that a generic email address used for all FOI requests is not an individual contact person's email address and does not therefore satisfy the requirements of s24AB(2)(d).

I contend that the Department did not take reasonable steps to assist me to revise my request so that a practical refusal reason no longer existed, as required by the FOI Act:

- Taking 14 days to respond to my request for information did not provide me with a reasonable opportunity to consult with the contact person during the consultation period, as required under s24AB(4)(a) of the FOI Act.
- s24AB(4)(b) of the FOI Act requires the Department to provide an applicant with "any information that would assist the applicant to revise the request". Not "some information", or "whatever information we feel like providing when we can be bothered".
- It is unreasonable for me to be expected to wait 14 days for a response from the Department, while the Department expects me to respond within hours of receiving an email from the Department.
- Paragraph 3.73 of the Guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner (https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-infor... advises agencies to make contact as soon as practicable. I contend this did not occur.
- The Department did not avail itself of the opportunity to discuss my request with me, as encouraged in paragraph 3.112 of the Guidelines, before starting a formal consultation process. The Department has a history of this behaviour, which is not in keeping with s3(4) of the FOI Act: "The Parliament also intends that functions and powers given by this Act are to be performed and exercised, as far as possible, to facilitate and promote public access to information, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost." Indeed, the Department has been anything but prompt, and requiring an entirely new FOI request for the same information clearly does not promote public access as the lowest reasonable cost.

Yours sincerely,

Justin Warren

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services

Dear Mr Warren

Thank you for your email.

I refer to your request for Internal Review of the formal consultation process in LEX 27960. The formal consultation period expired and your request was considered withdrawn by operation of the FOI Act. I confirm that internal review is not open to you.

As stated in our correspondence of 31 March 2017, the department is willing to process a new request (LEX 28805) on the basis of your revision of 24 March 2017. Please respond to this email confirming that you would like the department to proceed with processing that request.

Regards

FOI Legal Team
FOI and Litigation Branch | Legal Services Division
Department of Human Services
[email address]

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately and permanently delete this email.

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From: Justin Warren

Delivered

Dear FOI.LEGAL.TEAM,

Yes, process request LEX 28805.

I will refer this matter to the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Justin Warren

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From: FOI.LEGAL.TEAM
Department of Human Services


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Attachment LEX 28805 Decision.pdf
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Dear Mr Warren,

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your request for
documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

 

Kind regards,

 

Jessica

FOI and Litigation Branch | Legal Services Division

Department of Human Services
Email: [email address]

[1]cid:image001.png@01CF8C5E.459B3DD0

 

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal
professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or
confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are
prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have
received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately
and permanently delete this email.

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