Correspondence Regarding Lorraine Finlay's piece in The Nightly

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Australian Human Rights Commission should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Australian Human Rights Commission,

This is a Freedom of Information Request for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

I seek access to Correspondence between officials of the Australian Human Rights Commission relating to Lorraine Finlay's piece in The Nightly titled "Do not turn a blind eye to hate/In silence, anti-Semitism and racism flourishes", accessible here: https://thenightly.com.au/opinion/lorrai... (I note the title in the linked article here is different compared to the original published article in the Digitial Edition of The Nightly. For the purposes of this request, feel free to treat them identically)

Yours faithfully,

Alex Pentland

Jessica Tran, Australian Human Rights Commission

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Pentland

 

I am the officer with carriage of your FOI request made on Thursday 28
March 2024.

 

Under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act), the Commission
has until Monday, 29 April 2024 to make a decision in relation to your
request.

 

If your request covers documents which contain personal information of
third parties and the Commission is required under the FOI Act to consult
prior to making a decision on the release of those documents, the
processing period will be extended a further 30 days. We will advise if
this is required.

 

We are processing your request and seek your clarification on the below:

 

1.               In your request you seek ‘correspondence between
officials of the Australian Human Rights Commission’. On one view, that
could relate to any person working for the Commission. To assist in
directing our search for relevant documents, would you be agreeable to
refine your request to correspondence sent between relevant Commission
staff who were involved in preparing the piece and having it published (we
anticipate those staff members would include Commissioner Finlay, the
Human Rights team and the Communications team)?

 

2.               Are you agreeable for the Commission to redact names and
personal details of non-SES Commission staff in the requested documents?
Information such as the names and contact details of non-SES staff that is
considered irrelevant to a request can be redacted under s 22 of the FOI
Act.

 

Please contact me if you have any queries.

 

Kind regards,

 

Jessica Tran
Senior Lawyer

Australian Human Rights Commission
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
T +61 2 9284 9726
E [1][email address] W [2]humanrights.gov.au

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Dear Jessica Tran,

To answer the requestions for clarification:
1. Yes I agree to refine my request to correspondence sent between relevant Commission staff who were involved in preparing the piece
2. Yes I agree to redact such details.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Pentland

Jessica Tran, Australian Human Rights Commission

5 Attachments

Dear Mr Pentland

 

I refer to your FOI request dated 28 March 2024.

 

Please find attached a notice of decision, schedule and bundle of
documents in response to your request.

 

Kind regards,

 

Jessica Tran
Senior Lawyer

Australian Human Rights Commission
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
T +61 2 9284 9726
E [1][email address] W [2]humanrights.gov.au

Human rights: everyone, everywhere, everyday

[3]The Australian Human Rights Commission logo, a blue globe on a white
background. Text reads Australian Human Rights Commission. Everyone,
everywhere, everyday.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Austraila,
and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We
pay our respects to their Elders - past, present and future.

 

[4]Free + Equal Human Rights Conference. 6-7 June 2024. Registrations now
open! URL links to https://www.freeandequal.com.au

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://humanrights.gov.au/
4. https://www.freeandequal.com.au/

Dear Jessica Tran,

I apologise for my late reply to this matter.

I seek to request an internal review of the decisions to redact under both 47C and S47E.

While I acknowledge that the deliberative processes exemptions can be broad in the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (47C), these exemptions are not absolute. Referring to cases such as Rex Patrick and Department of Defence (No 2) (https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewd...), which held that an exemption was not valid, as the material sought did not "contains any opinion, advice or recommendations, nor is there a weighing up or evaluation of competing arguments or considerations." While I am unable to make a complete judgement in these cases, given that they are redacted, I struggle to see how the information contained here would be exempt, considering what was already made publc with the final opinion piece.

With recards to the second exemption, S47E(d), I am not satisfied that the AHRC has submitted a reasonable justification as to how this formation would adversely impact on the operation of the agency. The purpose of the Human Rights Commission under its legislation is indeed to uphold tolerance and promote the protection of human rights, yet it is not clear how such information here would lead to a violation of these duties and responsibilities. I note a previous case, Seven Network Operations Limited and Australian Human Rights Commission [2021] AICmr 66 (10 November 2021)(https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewd...) in where the AHRC used the same clause as an attempt to redact information with AHRA staff, Roy Morgan Research staff and Universities Australia employees. In that case, it was found that "The material is not conditionally exempt under s 47E(d)", and if that material were not conditionally exempt, I would be highly shocked if material from within the Australian Human Rights Commission would be exempt.

it is my best view that the removal of these exemptions and redactions would not violate the public interest tests of the FOI act, but would actually help aid the general principles of the Human Rights Commission, in ensuring for a more lively and engaging public forum for discussing human rights.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Pentland

Jessica Tran, Australian Human Rights Commission

Thank you for your email. I am out of the office and will action your
email on my return.

If your matter is urgent, please contact Julie O’Brien at
[email address]

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