Correspondence with China in regards to actions in South China Sea

Matthew Buchanan made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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

From: Matthew Buchanan

Delivered

Dear Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

I am requesting under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 any correspondence with China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and the United States in regards to the island building project in the South China Sea enacted by China, and also correspondence between ministers of parliament in regards to this.

Yours Faithfully,

Matthew Buchanan

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From: McKay, Georgina
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

UNCLASSIFIED
 
Our Ref: 1603-F1405
 
Dear Mr Buchanan
 
Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request
 
Thank you for your email dated 26 February 2016 in which you seek access
under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to:
 
“any correspondence with China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam
and the United States in regards to the island building project in the
South China Sea enacted by China, and also correspondence between
ministers of parliament in regards to this.”
 
Searches are now being undertaken in relevant areas of the Department for
documents relevant to your request.  I will contact you again once the
searches have been completed.
 
Timeframe for receiving your decision:
We received your request on 26 February 2016 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 28 March 2016. 
The period of 30 days may be extended in certain circumstances.  We will
advise you if there is any extension of time.
 
Scope of request:
If it emerges that the scope of your request is unclear or is too large
for processing, the Department will contact you to discuss re-scoping the
request.
 
Exclusion of officials’ names and contact details:
It is the Department’s policy to withhold the mobile numbers of all
government officials, and the names and contact details of government
officials not in the Senior Executive Service (SES).  If you require the
mobile numbers of all government officials, or the names and contact
details of non-SES officials, please let us know at [1][DFAT 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.
 
Charges:
Please note that the Department issues charges for processing FOI
requests.  We will advise you of these charges when we are in a position
to estimate the resources required to process your request.
 
Timing of release:
As the subject matter of your request will require DFAT to upload any
documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, I take
this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to upload
documents to the disclosure log on the same day as the documents are
released to you. 
 
Personal Information:
Your personal information has been collected by the Department as a result
of your correspondence, and will be used in order to process your FOI
request.  Your personal information is protected by law, including the
Privacy Act 1988.  The Department’s privacy policy is available at
[2]dfat.gov.au/privacy.html and contains information about access to or
correction of your personal information, and how you may complain about a
breach of your privacy.
Please note that if we need to consult with other people regarding release
of the documents you have requested, we may need to disclose your personal
information. When we consult with other people about a request you have
made, it may be apparent to those people that you have made a request,
even if we do not disclose your identity. If you have concerns about the
Department consulting with other people about your request, please let us
know your concerns.
 
Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to
contact me on (02) 6178 4084, or by return email.
 
Please note a copy of this email has been sent to Marie-Charlotte McKenna,
Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section, for her
information.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Georgina McKay

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

UNCLASSIFIED
 
FOI Ref: 1603-F1405
File No: 16/8475
 
Dear Mr Buchanan
 
Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request
 
Thank you for your email dated 26 February 2016 in which you seek access
under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to:
 
“any correspondence with China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam
and the United States in regards to the island building project in the
South China Sea enacted by China, and also correspondence between
ministers of parliament in regards to this.”
 
We seek your written agreement to extend the statutory timeframe by 30
days under the provisions of section 15AA of the Freedom of Information
Act 1982. The Department is endeavouring to process your request, however
we will need to undertake extensive searches across 6 geographic areas of
the Department, including consultation with the relevant overseas posts.
The additional extension of time will allow these searches to be
completed.
 
I confirm that the Department will endeavour to provide you with a
decision in response to this request by 27 April 2016.
 
Please confirm your agreement to this extension by return email.
 
Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to
contact the undersigned, the case officer, on (02) 6178 4084 or by return
email.
 
I will advise the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner of
your agreement to this extension. Please note a copy of this email has
been sent to Shaanti Sekhon, Acting Director, Freedom of Information and
Privacy Law Section, for her information.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Georgina McKay
_______________________________
Legal Officer | FOI and Privacy Law Section
Corporate Legal Branch | Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: McKay, Georgina
Sent: Friday, 11 March 2016 3:44 PM
To: [FOI #1654 email]
Cc: Mckenna, Marie-Charlotte
Subject: Your FOI request [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
 
 
UNCLASSIFIED
 
Our Ref: 1603-F1405
 
Dear Mr Buchanan
 
Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request
 
Thank you for your email dated 26 February 2016 in which you seek access
under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to:
 
“any correspondence with China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam
and the United States in regards to the island building project in the
South China Sea enacted by China, and also correspondence between
ministers of parliament in regards to this.”
 
Searches are now being undertaken in relevant areas of the Department for
documents relevant to your request.  I will contact you again once the
searches have been completed.
 
Timeframe for receiving your decision:
We received your request on 26 February 2016 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 28 March 2016. 
The period of 30 days may be extended in certain circumstances.  We will
advise you if there is any extension of time.
 
Scope of request:
If it emerges that the scope of your request is unclear or is too large
for processing, the Department will contact you to discuss re-scoping the
request.
 
Exclusion of officials’ names and contact details:
It is the Department’s policy to withhold the mobile numbers of all
government officials, and the names and contact details of government
officials not in the Senior Executive Service (SES).  If you require the
mobile numbers of all government officials, or the names and contact
details of non-SES officials, please let us know at [1][DFAT 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.
 
Charges:
Please note that the Department issues charges for processing FOI
requests.  We will advise you of these charges when we are in a position
to estimate the resources required to process your request.
 
Timing of release:
As the subject matter of your request will require DFAT to upload any
documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, I take
this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to upload
documents to the disclosure log on the same day as the documents are
released to you. 
 
Personal Information:
Your personal information has been collected by the Department as a result
of your correspondence, and will be used in order to process your FOI
request.  Your personal information is protected by law, including the
Privacy Act 1988.  The Department’s privacy policy is available at
[2]dfat.gov.au/privacy.html and contains information about access to or
correction of your personal information, and how you may complain about a
breach of your privacy.
Please note that if we need to consult with other people regarding release
of the documents you have requested, we may need to disclose your personal
information. When we consult with other people about a request you have
made, it may be apparent to those people that you have made a request,
even if we do not disclose your identity. If you have concerns about the
Department consulting with other people about your request, please let us
know your concerns.
 
Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to
contact me on (02) 6178 4084, or by return email.
 
Please note a copy of this email has been sent to Marie-Charlotte McKenna,
Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section, for her
information.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Georgina McKay

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From: Matthew Buchanan

Delivered

Dear McKay, Georgina,

I agree to the extension of the 30 day statutory timeframe.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Buchanan

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

UNCLASSIFIED

 

Dear Mr Buchanan

 

We note that your request has not set a time period for the documents you
seek. We would be grateful if you could provide a timeframe.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

 

Kind regards,

 

Georgina McKay

_______________________________
Legal Officer | FOI and Privacy Law Section
Corporate Legal Branch | Legal Division

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Phone +61 2 6178 4084

 

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Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

UNCLASSIFIED

 

Dear Mr Buchanan

 

Further to my email below, I would be grateful if you could clarify if
there is a time period for the documents you are seeking.

 

Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

 

Kind regards,

 

Georgina McKay

_______________________________
Legal Officer | FOI and Privacy Law Section
Corporate Legal Branch | Legal Division

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Phone +61 2 6178 4084

 

 

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Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Charges letter to Applicant.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

 

Dear Mr Buchanan

 

Please find attached correspondence in relation to your FOI request.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.

 

Kind regards,

 

Georgina McKay

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From: Ben Kirkwood

Dear Mr Buchanan

 

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has received
a request from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (the
Department) for an extension until 27 June 2016 to process the FOI
application you lodged on 26 February 2016. I note that the Department has
already received one extension under s 15AB from the OAIC with respect to
this request for documents.

 

This request was based on the processing period being insufficient to deal
adequately with your FOI request, because it is complex and voluminous. In
support of the request the Department cite:

 

o The request covers a three year period and the subject matter of the
request is sensitive.
o Since the OAIC granted the Department an extension of time on
28 April 2016, the agency has established that additional documents
relevant to the request are located in a further three posts. This
brings the total number of areas holding documents covered by the
scope of your request within the Department to 16, the majority being
overseas posts.

 

The OAIC is minded to grant the Department with additional time to process
your request, but will take any comments you may have to make into account
when deciding the application.

 

A response from you by 17 June 2016 would be very much appreciated; my
contact details are included below.  If I do not hear from you by this
time I may proceed to decide the matter on the basis of the information I
have before me.

 

I look forward to your response.

 

Ben Kirkwood |Assistant Merit Review & Investigation Officer

Dispute Resolution Branch

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 SYDNEY NSW 2001 | [1]www.oaic.gov.au

Phone:  +61 2 9284 9615 | Facsimile: +61 2 9284 9666 

Email: [2][email address]

 

I am in the office on Tuesday and Wednesdays. I work remotely on Mondays.

 

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References

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

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From: Ben Kirkwood


Attachment Decision Letter to Requestor 15AB RQ16 01657 1.pdf
329K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Buchanan

 

Extension of time request under s 15AB

On 24 May 2016, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (the
Department) requested further time to make a decision on your FOI request
of 26 February 2016.

This request was on the basis that the processing period is insufficient
to deal adequately with this FOI request, because it is complex or
voluminous.

As a delegate of the acting Information Commissioner, I am authorised to
make decisions on requests for extensions of time under s 15AB of the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the FOI Act). I have decided to
grant the Department until 27 June 2016 to process your FOI request. This
decision has been made under s 15AB(2) of the FOI Act. A copy of the
decision is attached.

Contact

If you would like to discuss this matter you can contact me on the number
below on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Alternatively, I can be reached by return
email. Please quote the reference number RQ16/01657.

 

Kind regards

 

Ben Kirkwood |Assistant Merit Review & Investigation Officer

Dispute Resolution Branch

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 SYDNEY NSW 2001 | [1]www.oaic.gov.au

Phone:  +61 2 9284 9615 | Facsimile: +61 2 9284 9666 

Email: [2][email address]

 

I am in the office on Tuesday and Wednesdays. I work remotely on Mondays.

 

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References

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

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade only: