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Corruption engaged in by the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of the Prime Minister

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Dear Office of the Australian Information Commissioner,

I refer to the Information Commissioner’s investigation into the Department of Home Affairs’ compliance with the requirements of the FOI Act. The Information Commissioner exercised her discretion to publish her report of that investigation here: https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-infor... presumably because it is in the public interest to reveal that a major Commonwealth agency has been acting illegally.

In particular, noting his obligations as Principal Officer under the FOI Act (being the person who is ultimately responsible for his Department’s compliance with the law), and his legal obligations under ss. 12, 13(4) and 13(11) of the Public Service Act 1999, the Information Commissioner’s investigation report makes it plain that the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs is, by definition, corrupt.

Further, the Information Commissioner’s investigation report reveals a worrying practice, apparently routinely engaged in by the Department of Home Affairs, of unnecessarily consulting with the Minister’s Office in respect of requests received under the FOI Act. Noting the requirements of the doctrine of the separation of powers, and the legal obligations imposed on public servants to be impartial and to use Commonwealth resources for proper purposes, it’s likely that whomever implemented a policy whereby the Department is to consult with the Minister in respect of applications made under the FOI Act (where such consultation is not required by law), and whoever gives effect to that policy, is also corrupt.

I now refer to this article which suggests the Information Commissioner investigated the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s compliance with the FOI Act: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-ne...

I also refer to the interchange on 2 March 2020 at the Senate’s Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee between Stephanie Foster, a senior executive at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet with oversight of the Department’s compliance with the FOI Act, and Senator Rex Patrick, in relation to the above mentioned Information Commissioner investigation into the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s compliance with the FOI Act:

Senator PATRICK: I have some questions that relate to FOI. On 27 February this year The Guardian produced an article that talked about some findings delivered by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to the department in relation to FOIs. Can you confirm that the department did in fact receive a report or findings from the OAIC?

Ms Foster: Yes, we did.

Senator PATRICK: Could those comments—those findings, that report, or it may be a letter—made by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner be made available to the committee?

Ms Foster: It's my understanding that the commissioner is, shortly, planning to publish that information and that that's the normal manner in which the material is released. We could walk through the outcomes, if that would be helpful.

Senator PATRICK: Sure. There's an irony in you not disclosing information about freedom of information performance!

As best as I can tell though, the Information Commissioner’s investigation report into the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s compliance with the FOI Act (referred to above) has not been made publicly available. Under the FOI Act, I seek a copy of that report.

In support of my application I note that the FOI Guidelines (paragraph 6.19) make it clear that a public interest factor favouring disclosure of a document is that it will inform debate on a matter of public importance, including to reveal “that an agency or official has engaged in misconduct or negligent, improper or unlawful conduct”. As above, if the Information Commissioner’s investigation report found that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet did not comply with the FOI Act, the Department and, ipso facto, the Secretary of the Department, is corrupt - that is clearly in the public interest.

If the investigation report the subject of my request is already publicly available, I would appreciate if you could tell me how I can access that report, upon which I will withdraw this request, with apologies.

Yours faithfully,

C Roberts

Legal, Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

5 Attachments

Our reference: FOIREQ21/00019

Dear C Roberts

Freedom of Information request

I refer to your request for access to documents made under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the FOI Act) and received by the Office of the
Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) on 1 February 2021.

Scope of your request

In your email you seek access to the following:

“I refer to the Information Commissioner’s investigation into the
Department of Home Affairs’ compliance with the requirements of the FOI
Act. The Information Commissioner exercised her discretion to publish her
report of that investigation here:
[1]https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-infor...
presumably because it is in the public interest to reveal that a major
Commonwealth agency has been acting illegally.

 

In particular, noting his obligations as Principal Officer under the FOI
Act (being the person who is ultimately responsible for his Department’s
compliance with the law), and his legal obligations under ss. 12, 13(4)
and 13(11) of the Public Service Act 1999, the Information Commissioner’s
investigation report makes it plain that the Secretary of the Department
of Home Affairs is, by definition, corrupt.

 

Further, the Information Commissioner’s investigation report reveals a
worrying practice, apparently routinely engaged in by the Department of
Home Affairs, of unnecessarily consulting with the Minister’s Office in
respect of requests received under the FOI Act. Noting the requirements of
the doctrine of the separation of powers, and the legal obligations
imposed on public servants to be impartial and to use Commonwealth
resources for proper purposes, it’s likely that whomever implemented a
policy whereby the Department is to consult with the Minister in respect
of applications made under the FOI Act (where such consultation is not
required by law), and whoever gives effect to that policy, is also
corrupt.

 

I now refer to this article which suggests the Information Commissioner
investigated the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s compliance
with the FOI Act:
[2]https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlo...

 

I also refer to the interchange on 2 March 2020 at the Senate’s Finance
and Public Administration Legislation Committee between Stephanie Foster,
a senior executive at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
with oversight of the Department’s compliance with the FOI Act, and
Senator Rex Patrick, in relation to the above mentioned Information
Commissioner investigation into the Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet’s compliance with the FOI Act:

 

Senator PATRICK: I have some questions that relate to FOI. On 27 February
this year The Guardian produced an article that talked about some findings
delivered by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to the
department in relation to FOIs. Can you confirm that the department did in
fact receive a report or findings from the OAIC?

 

Ms Foster: Yes, we did.

 

Senator PATRICK: Could those comments—those findings, that report, or it
may be a letter—made by the Office of the Australian Information
Commissioner be made available to the committee?

 

Ms Foster: It's my understanding that the commissioner is, shortly,
planning to publish that information and that that's the normal manner in
which the material is released. We could walk through the outcomes, if
that would be helpful.

 

Senator PATRICK: Sure. There's an irony in you not disclosing information
about freedom of information performance!

 

As best as I can tell though, the Information Commissioner’s investigation
report into the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s compliance
with the FOI Act (referred to above) has not been made publicly available.
Under the FOI Act, I seek a copy of that report.

 

In support of my application I note that the FOI Guidelines (paragraph
6.19) make it clear that a public interest factor favouring disclosure of
a document is that it will inform debate on a matter of public importance,
including to reveal “that an agency or official has engaged in misconduct
or negligent, improper or unlawful conduct”. As above, if the Information
Commissioner’s investigation report found that the Department of the Prime
Minister and Cabinet did not comply with the FOI Act, the Department and,
ipso facto, the Secretary of the Department, is corrupt - that is clearly
in the public interest.

 

If the investigation report the subject of my request is already publicly
available, I would appreciate if you could tell me how I can access that
report, upon which I will withdraw this request, with apologies..”

Timeframes for dealing with your request

Section 15 of the FOI Act requires this office to process your request no
later than 30 days after the day we receive it. However, section 15(6) of
the FOI Act allows us a further 30 days in situations where we need to
consult with third parties about certain information, such as business
documents or documents affecting their personal privacy. We will notify
you separately if we need to consult a third party.

As we received your request on 1 February 2021, we must process your
request by 3 March 2021.

If you would like to discuss this matter, please contact me on my contact
details set out below.

Yours sincerely

[3][IMG]   Angela Wong |  Lawyer

Legal Services

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

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

1300 363 992
| [5][email address]
[9]Subscribe [10]Subscribe to
[6]Facebook | [7]LinkedIn | [8]Twitter |   icon Information
Matters

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. https://www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-infor...
2. https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlo...
3. https://www.oaic.gov.au/
4. http://www.oaic.gov.au/
5. mailto:[email address]
6. http://www.facebook.com/OAICgov
7. https://www.linkedin.com/company/office-...
8. https://twitter.com/OAICgov
10. https://www.oaic.gov.au/media-and-speech...

Legal, Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

5 Attachments

Our reference: FOIREQ21/00019

Dear C Roberts

Freedom of information request no. FOIREQ21/00019

I refer to your request made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(Cth) (FOI Act) and received by the Office of the Australian Information
Commissioner (OAIC) on 1 February 2021.

Because your request covers documents which contain information concerning
personal information, the OAIC is required to consult the individuals
under s 27A of the FOI Act before making a decision on release of the
documents.

For this reason, the period for processing your request has been extended
by 30 days to allow time to consult (see s 15(6) of the FOI Act). The
processing period for your request will now end on 2 April 2021.

The consultation mechanisms under s 27A apply when we believe the person
may wish to contend that the requested documents are exempt for reasons of
personal privacy. We will take into account any comments we receive but
the final decision about whether to grant you access to the documents you
requested rests with the office of the OAIC.

At this time we do not have your permission to release your name to any
person or business we consult. Please advise if you consent to your name
being disclosed during consultation.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

[1][IMG]   Angela Wong |  Lawyer

Legal Services

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

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

1300 363 992 |
[3][email address]
[7]Subscribe [8]Subscribe to
[4]Facebook | [5]LinkedIn | [6]Twitter |   icon Information
Matters

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. https://www.oaic.gov.au/
2. https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlo...
3. mailto:[email address]
4. https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlo...
5. https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlo...
6. https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlo...
8. https://www.oaic.gov.au/media-and-speech...

Legal, Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

8 Attachments

Our reference: FOIREQ21/00019

 

Dear C Roberts,

 

Please find a decision of today’s date and the relevant document attached
for your FOI request.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

[1][IMG]   Angela Wong |  Lawyer

Legal Services

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

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

1300 363 992
| [3][email address]
[7]Subscribe [8]Subscribe to
[4]Facebook | [5]LinkedIn | [6]Twitter |   icon Information
Matters

 

Please note – my work days are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

 

[9][IMG]

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. https://www.oaic.gov.au/
2. http://www.oaic.gov.au/
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.facebook.com/OAICgov
5. https://www.linkedin.com/company/office-...
6. https://twitter.com/OAICgov
8. https://www.oaic.gov.au/media-and-speech...
9. https://www.oaic.gov.au/paw

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