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Current Occupants of Positions disclosed in FOI 22031 IR22524

Verity Pane made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Veterans' Affairs

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

Under s 17 of the FOI Act I require DVA to compile from its Human Resource Information Management Information System, the names and position numbers of all positions identified in Internal Review Decision 22524 of FOI 22031 (being all DVA FOI delegates) as at 27 Sep 2018.

As DVA has already produced and disclosed the position list, the work is minimal and well under the 5 hour free processing cap.

As DVA would be aware, in ‘BB’ and Department of Human Services [2014] AICmr 11, it was ruled that that there needs to be special circumstances to justify the withholding of information that reveals the personal information of public servants in connection with their usual duties or responsibilities, specifically that there needs to be a clear expectation of confidentiality to justify the non-disclosure of a document containing the details of Departmental officers, otherwise the information will be considered to
fall within the realm of performing usual tasks and responsibilities in public duties and therefore be excluded from exemption.

Disclosure will not be unreasonable merely because it reveals an individual staff member’s involvement in agency business. Similarly it is insufficient to merely allude that disclosure would or could reasonably have a substantial adverse effect on agency resources, as held in BB. And the bar for meeting section 37(1)(c) is quite difficult and agencies will only be able to rely on this exemption in fairly exceptional circumstances.
For example, in Re Ford and Child Support Registrar [2006] AATA 283, the AAT found that the exemption did apply to documents about a third party where the FOI applicant had written threatening letters to that third party, and the third party had been the main prosecution witness against the FOI applicant who was in gaol.

Given that FOI delegates are required by law to provide sufficient identification as to verify they have the have the authority to exercise that delegation (which means names).

Given only 14 positions were identified (4 in DVA’s Canberra Office and 10 in DVA’s Sydney Office) by DVA, should take you merely minutes.

Yours faithfully,

Verity Pane

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Good afternoon Verity Pane,

FOI 24761 FOI acknowledgment

We refer to your FOI request received on 27 September 2018. Please accept this as acknowledgment of your request, noting a decision will be due by Monday, 29 October 2018.

Kind Regards,
 
Information Law Team
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
E: [email address] | W: www.dva.gov.au

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Attachment FOI 24761 Charges notice.pdf
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Dear Verity

 

FOI 24761 – Preliminary Assessment of Charge

 

Please find attached the preliminary assessment of charge for your freedom
of information request received by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on
27 September 2018.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & General Counsel Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

To: INFORMATION.LAW,

I find your ridiculous charges decision to levy $119 for the collection of 14 names and position numbers of the occupants of identified in this Internal Review disclosure https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/4... unreasonable and made in bad faith.

Notably, no charges were levied for the collection of this information released in the prior FOI, which arguably would have taken longer to compile given it involved more than producing a standard position report in DVA’s human resource management information system (HRMIS) and required questions to be asked of the officers involved as to the extent of their FOI duties.

It does not take two hours to produce a position report in a HRMIS, rather less than 5 minutes (and that’s being for someone unfamiliar with the HRMIS).

I therefore challenge the charges assessment, which appears to have been made solely to impede access, and for no other purpose.

Ms Pane

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Verity Pane left an annotation ()

A big issue with fees is where massive, spurious fees are imposed for something that shouldn’t take long. Also fees of any kind being imposed to access docs with a clear public interest is bad.

Imposing fees used to slow down requests and impose more process on people.

For instance, estimating a large fee and waiting for the applicant to ask that it be lowered stops the clock on the 30 day timelimit https://oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-informati...

This is something often used by unscrupulous agencies to subvert the aims and objects of the FOI Act.

When fees like this seem arbitrary they kill trust in the process and the good will of requesters.

Many honest FOI Officers make their own public interest assessment and waive fees. Once again, this is the system working at it’s best. People should be supported in making public interest information public, not charged. Where charges are imposed on public interest requests, income and wealth shape people’s ability to help our government agencies increase their transparency.

Often the person making the request is more of an expert in the topic than the FOI officer. Accordingly they often know more efficient methods to extract the information they need from the standard systems used by the agency. A more collaborative approach would promote these knowledge exchanges to extract information from government systems more efficiently. In situations where the officer ignores advice from the requester, imposed fees often seem absurd or obstructive.

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Verity Pane left an annotation ()

As stated by the Information Commissioner:
...it is implicit that a charge must not be used to unnecessarily delay access or discourage an applicant from exercising the right of access conferred by the FOI Act and that charges should fairly reflect the work involved in providing access to documents on request. Where a charge is justified, it would be in keeping with the objects of the FOI Act to ensure that the method of payment should also facilitate prompt access to the documents.

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Dear Verity Pane

We acknowledge receipt of your reconsideration of charges request below and will notify you of our decision within 30 days of receiving your email in accordance with section 29(6) of the FOI Act.

Kind regards

Information Law Section | Legal Services & General Counsel Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
E: [email address]

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Attachment FOI 24761 Charges decision.pdf
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Dear Verity Pane

 

FOI 24761 – Charges Decision

 

Please find attached the charges decision in relation to your charges
reconsideration request received by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on
25 October 2018.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & General Counsel Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Attn INFORMATION.LAW,

Yet another bad faith fraudulent charges notice, to the surprise of none, as DVA’s Information Law lawyers continue to abuse every possible aspect of the Freedom of Information Act and then some. In fact, so audacious you have become, you make little attempt to hide this is your intent, as evidenced by the lack of direct evidence, the wild and exaggerated processing claims, and the complete distortion, and often outright fraud, your team engage in on a day to day basis.

This is well and truly demonstrated by the unbroken chain of such abuses by DVA’s Information Law lawyers, shown over these last six months, which has been to abuse and violate almost every provision, aim, object and purpose of the FOI Act, which is to provide access at the lowest possible cost, if any at all, in a timely and transparent manner.

Firstly, yet again another invalid decision notice that does not comply with s 26(1)(b) and FOI Guideline 3.181.

The FOI decision notice is invalid, as it does not meet the requirements of s 26(1)(b) and FOI Guideline 3.181, as it does not include the required information to identify the decision maker (without further research), which as per the OAIC ICON circular of 8 June 2018 (which was circulated to agencies including DVA), states “where the decision relates to a document of an agency, the decision notice needs to include the name and designation of the person making the decision, including the decision maker’s first name, surname and title, to clearly explain their authority to make the decision”.

This required information is not merely incidental to an FOI decision but integral - it is provided so the receiver knows who to contact about the decision, and to determine whether the person who issued it is in fact authorised to do so (such as by independently checking the agency’s FOI delegations/authorisations list). It is simply not enough to assert that the agency knows who issued the decision, or is confident they are authorised to do so - it is not a question for the agency alone to determine.

I also note that your Minister, in response to Question on notice 369, stated to Parliament that DVA would not use less than first name, position number and title, in decisions (despite that also falling below s 26(1)(b)), so as to not fall below identification and transparency requirements, but since then title and first name has been dropped and now the opaque position number is used alone routinely. Has your Minister deliberately misled Parliament?

Secondly, yet again no direct evidence to support your ridiculous claims has been provided. DVA simply writes some fiction and then claims it to be true (not Q.E.D. , is it). If you’ll lie to Parliament about not retrospectively deleting a benefit you were supposed to pay to Martin Rollins (as covered extensively recently) or will tell a veteran at breaking point he has no entitlement to payments he was always entitled to (to the point he becomes suicidal, he tells DVA and they told him he was “blackmailing” them, like DVA did to Jesse Bird), lying on an FOI is just small biscuits to you.

The facts are, contrary to your claims, the history panel on the position number in the HRIMS details every occupant that has held that position since it has existed in the system. Similarly, these are the positions of the work area compiling this FOI (Information Law), and you are well aware who these people are and what these positions are - yet engage in this charade that this is some deep dark mystical secret that requires hours of research to identify.

Similarly, under the Act charges can only be to prepare and release, not for additional and unnecessary steps DVA inserts into the process to merely exaggerate the time actually required.

Thirdly, again to artificially inflate such charges, you base the work (which you claim has already occurred anyway) on the most expensive officer (an EL1 Assistant Director lawyer level) when simple administrative tasks such as compiling a list or reading a report can and should be carried out by far junior officers (a more senior officer like an Executive Level officer may be defendable to review the compiled information for release, and them being a lawyer to boot would be somewhat excessive but barely passable, but for them to prepare the material for review is not the lowest cost possible, but rather overbilling and overcharging).

Therefore Internal Review is sought, as you intended to cause, so as to create yet another 30 day delay, which you will then put up another bullshit decision, forcing to IC Review so as to cause even more delay, as the long established pattern of your conduct has shown.

Even for a deemed refusal decision that the OAIC denied you an extension on, you are delaying that by months - you guys really don’t care how egregious you breach, you thumb your nose at the public regardless with your outrageous hostility to the lawful right to access that the FOI Act creates.

Ms Pane

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Good afternoon Verity Pane,

FOI 25415 - Internal Review acknowledgement

Please accept this email as acknowledgement of the below request for an internal review. A decision on your request will be due by 7 December 2018.

Kind Regards,

Information Law Section | Legal Services and General Counsel Branch Legal Assurance and Governance Division Department of Veterans’ Affairs
E: [email address] | W: www.dva.gov.au

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Attachment FOI 25415 Statement of Reasons.pdf
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Dear Ms Pane

 

FOI 25415 - Decision and Statement of Reasons

 

Please find attached the decision relating to your freedom of information
internal review request received by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on
7 November 2018.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

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Verity Pane left an annotation ()

Ridiculous how DVA wastes, by orders of magnitude, Commonwealth resources unethically and unlawfully to delay or frustrate access, for even very straight forward and simple FOIs (such as printing off a position history report).

Departments like DVA complain that FOI is expensive, yet the overwhelming cause of that expense and the bulk of the hours involved, are due entirely to the bad faith machinations the Department of veterans’ Affairs engages in, that extends and impacts beyond them, to other bodies like the Ombudsman, the Tribunal, the OAIC and even the Federal Court, in addition to others.

It’s just downright stupid how they behave.

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Attachment FOI 24761 Statement of Reasons.pdf
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Attachment FOI 24761 S17 document for release.pdf
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Dear Ms Pane

 

FOI 24761 – Decision and Statement of Reasons

 

Please find attached the decision relating to your freedom of information
request received by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 27 September
2018.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

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