Department's concerns regarding journalist use of FOI laws

Patrick Conheady made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science did not have the information requested.

From: Patrick Conheady

Delivered

Dear Department of Industry (Department of Industry, Innovation and Science),

On 14 April 2016, your Secretary Glenys Beauchamp was reported making comments to the following effect in relation to FOI laws:

'Ms Beauchamp even told the IPAA conference on Monday her job would be easier if she did not have to manage the "risk" of journalists using the FoI process to research stories.'

(Noel Towell, 'APS bosses 'self serving' in calls for greater secrecy over FoI laws', Canberra Times: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national...

In another place, your comments are described as follows:

'Department of Industry, Innovation and Science secretary Glenys Beauchamp said the majority of FOI requests were from journalists "looking for stories" and her job would be easier if she did not have to manage that risk.'

(Henry Belot, 'Australia's top public servants call for FOI reform to hide advice from public', Canberra Times: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national...

Please provide any documents in the possession of the Department describing problems caused by journalists using the FOI process to research stories, and precisely how this makes the Secretary's job more difficult. I am seeking to see what specific problems your Secretary is concerned about or, in the alternative, establish that the Secretary has no basis for her concerns and this was a baseless offhand remark.

Documents within the scope of this request could include internal emails by or to the Secretary, minutes recommending changes to FOI policy, reports or other documents describing examples where the Department would have liked to do something but decided not to because it was worried that a journalist would put in an FOI request (or whatever it is that the Secretary was concerned about).

Please treat this as a request for administrative access or, if that is refused, a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I preemptively submit that any FOI charges should be waived on the basis that this is an issue of public importance, as demonstrated by your Secretary's public comments and the public comments over other department heads. I also note that, given that multiple department heads have in recent months thought it necessary to make the FOI system a matter of public comment, the public interest would weigh heavily against the application of any conditional exemption that might otherwise apply.

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Conheady

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From: Freedom of Information
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Dear Mr Conheady

We acknowledge receipt of your email below dated 26 June 2016, in which you request access to "documents in the possession of the Department describing problems caused by journalists using the FOI process to research stories, and precisely how this makes the Secretary's job more difficult".

The department is processing your request. We will be in contact in regard to your request in the near future.

Regards

FOI Team
Legal, Audit and Assurance Branch | Corporate Division Department of Industry, Innovation and Science GPO Box 9839, Canberra ACT 2601
 
Legal in Confidence - This transmission is intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain confidential or legally privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify me immediately by telephone and delete copies of this transmission together with any attachments.

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From: Freedom of Information
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science


Attachment Decision 15 July 16.pdf
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Dear Mr Conheady

We refer to your freedom of information request dated 26 June 2016. Please find attached the decision in respect of your request.

Regards

FOI Team
Legal, Audit and Assurance Branch | Corporate Division
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
GPO Box 9839
Canberra ACT 2601
 
Legal in Confidence - This transmission is intended only for the use of the addressee and may contain confidential or legally privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify me immediately by telephone and delete copies of this transmission together with any attachments.

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