Details relating to The Motor Vehicles Standards Act

Greg L Bean made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

The request was refused by Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear Department of Infrastructure and Transport,

I am making this request under the FOI Act.

I am seeking copies of all correspondence, including emails, that occurred between me and staff of the Department, related conversations between staff within the Department regarding my request, related conversations between the Minister of the Department and his staff including the Parliamentary Secretary for the Department and her staff regarding my request, and between any of these and my Federal Member of Parliament, Bronwyn Bishop.

The issue I was pursuing has not been resolved to my satisfaction, nor explained with any valid comprehensive and cohesive details. Some, but not all of these conversations, will be tied to a request reference number 2011-123286 issued by the Department.

While I have copies of my email communications and responses to me, I do not have and was not privy to the internal communications between these other involved parties and therefore do not understand the conclusions they have arrived at or why they decided to take no further action without any acknowledgement from me that I had been satisfied.

The timeframe of this communication was between May 2011 and March 2012.

As the response was inadequate, and I have no means to understand how it was arrived at, I request the details of conversations between these other involved participants as I may pursue this matter to a logical conclusion supported by fact rather than opinion and a dismissive attitude.

Yours faithfully,

Greg L. Bean

email: greg at acaze dot com
ph: +61-411-243-975

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Dear Mr Bean

Thank you for your email below. So that the Department can assist with your FOI application and direct it to the appropriate section for action I would grateful if you could supply us with some further information such as what your request (ID No 2011-123286) was in relation to (i.e. was this a request to import a vehicle into Australia or a Registered Automotive Dealership (RAWS) matter or another issue altogether?).

Please do not hesitate to contact me on the number below if you would like to discuss this matter further.

Kind regards
Allison Kenna
FOI Coordinator
Governance, Planning and Reporting
Department of Infrastructure and Transport

Level 4 East, 62 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra
Phone: 02 6274 7844 
Fax: 02 6275 1347 

Please note that I do not work on Wednesdays

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Hi Allison, thanks you for your quick response.

My original request, for which this FOI request is now seeking that I be provided with all related communication, was about the price gouging by foreign corporations that is only possible due to the very curious restrictions that exist in the Motor Vehicle Transport Act.

My communications, directly with the Department or through my Federal Member, Bronwyn Bishop, were with a number of Departmental staff and were, for my part, all sent by me and responded to from the Department at my [greg at acaze dot com] email address. I am uncertain what email address B Bishop used to communicate with the Department, or who she communicated with.

I am also uncertain what conversations took place internally within the Department as I was not copied into these communications.

It is copies of this full set of communications I seek to have provided to me.

I expect that the communications would have referenced the 2011-123286 request ID, or that a search of communications within the Departments email server for emails received from me, sent to me, or from and to B. Bishop would provide excellent start and end points to communications that likely included many internal staff, the Minister, A Albanese, the Parliamentary Secretary, C. King, and staff within their offices.

I hope this helps you begin the search for the full set of related communications.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Dear Mr Bean

Acknowledgement - FOI 14-32 - Details relating to The Motor Vehicles Standards Act

Thank you for your emails received on 16 September 2013 requesting access to documents in the possession of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (the Department) in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

You will be notified of any charges payable in relation to your request or of a decision regarding your FOI request as soon as this has been determined. In accordance with Section 15(5)(b) you can expect to hear from the Department regarding this matter within 30 days.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding the processing of your request. I can be reached by telephone on (02) 6274 6495 (or through the Department’s switchboard number on 1800 075 001) or by email at [email address].

To assist the Department in responding to your future communication on this request, please quote the FOI tracking number located in the subject line.

Regards,

Freedom of Information Coordinator
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

GPO Box 594, Canberra, ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 6495 (Direct) or Toll free: 1800 075 001 (Switchboard)
Fax: 02 6275 1347

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Dear Mr Bean

I am seeking clarification about part of your FOI request.

Grateful if you could confirm what the reference number "2011-123286 request ID" is in reference to. Specifically, could you please advise the subject of this "request", who provided you with this reference number and any other information which may assist us to understand what this number is in reference to.

If you would like to discuss this matter please don't hesitate to contact me on 02 6274 6495.

Kind regards

Freedom of Information (FOI) Coordinator
Governance, Planning and Reporting Section | Governance and Reporting Branch | Corporate Services Division
Department of Infrastructure and Regional DevelopmentD
D (02) 6274 6495

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

In reviewing my many many emails with The Department, The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary I find 2 reference numbers. The 2011-123286 number appears to have initiated from the Parliamentary Secretary, Catherine King's office. The second reference number I find is 02377-2011 which appears to have been generated by The Minister, A. Albanese's office.

There appears to be no reference number generated by the department for all the email communications I had with various departmental staff. I can only suggest that a search of the department's email server, The Minister's email server, and the Parliamentary Secretary's email server, if these three are separate servers, for emails sent to or received from my email address, from or to Bronwyn Bishop's office on my behalf, or possible also from Adam Bandt or Scott Ludlum's offices on my behalf would turn up most, if not all, of the conversations that took place around this subject. Such a search should also be a trivial activity for a skilled email administrator and likely be completed in less than a couple of hours.

Finally, as described previously, the subject of all these many conversations was the Motor Vehicle Transport Act legislation and a specific set of regulations within it that undermine the Australian market and permit price gouging by foreign corporations that appear to have no benefit to Australia or Australians.

I hope that helps.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I just wanted to indicate that I am looking for all information to be provided in electronic form.

For emails, a file capable of being imported to MS-Outlook such as an archive.pst would be appropriate.

For other communications, files in an MS-Office compatible format would be appropriate.

Printed documents, scanned copies of documents in image format, or documents in portable document format (PDF) will be difficult if not impossible to utilize and are not acceptable.

As it is expected that the original documents were all created in one of these acceptable formats, not needing to reformat to satisfy this FOI request should also minimize effort and cost.

Please advise if any documents cannot be produced in the formats requested.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development


Attachment FOI 14 32 charges notice.pdf
223K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Bean

Charges notice - FOI 14-32 - Details relating to The Motor Vehicles Standards Act

I refer to your request for access to documents in the possession of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (the Department) in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

A determination of your liability to pay a charge and a preliminary charges estimate is attached.

Please contact me if you have any questions regarding the processing of your request. I can be reached by telephone on (02) 6274 6495 (or through the Department’s switchboard number on 1800 075 001) or by email at [email address].

To assist the Department in responding to your future communication on this request, please quote the FOI tracking number located in the subject line.

Regards,

Freedom of Information Coordinator
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

GPO Box 594, Canberra, ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 6495 (Direct) or Toll free: 1800 075 001 (Switchboard)
Fax: 02 6275 1347

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your estimate of costs.

Before I proceed, and I may seek a review of costs, I would like more detail on what will be provided. Could you please provide an index of the 47 relevant documents, including the document creation date, format (email, MS-Word, etc), author's name, subject and document date the author is responding to, addressee(s) the document was sent to, subject of the document, and number of pages in the document, and whether it is being released in its entirety or with deletions. I believe only 1 document fits the latter description of having deletions.

While I am not at this time requesting a review of the costing, I may do so at a later time for the following reasons:
1 - I am surprised that what I expect are almost entirely email documents that would be identifiable by an email server search in 1-2 hours has taken 15 hours to identify,
2 - I notice that over 26 hours has been spent examining relevant pages for decision making. I am puzzled why this is seen as a chargeable activity. If a document exists, it should be available. Surely it does not take 5 minutes a page to identify whether the document exists or not,
3 - Over 5 hours to prepare a decision seems excessive,
4 - Photocopies at 10c per page suggests the output will be in an unusable photocopied form when I asked for usable electronic output as described in an earlier communication.

I look forward to receiving an index of documents as requested and will consider having costs reviewed.

Thank you for your effort to date.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development


Attachment FOI fact sheet7 charges.pdf
681K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Bean

Thank you for your email.

A decision has not yet been made on access to documents in scope of your request and the charges estimate provided to you is an estimate of final costs. As stipulated in paragraph 7 of the charges notice "In accordance with regulation 10(1), the charges may be reassessed upon finalisation of the request. While reassessing the outstanding balance, should the Department have over-estimated the preliminary charges, an appropriately reduced balance will be sought from you prior to providing you with documents relevant to your request."

As the decision on access to documents has not yet been made, and the decision will not be made until after charges (or at least a deposit of charges) has been paid by you, the Department cannot pre-empt a decision nor provide you with an indexed list of what will or will not be provided to you.

If you wish to seek a waiver of charges or a review of the charges calculated please refer to the review options outlined in the charges notice sent to you.

I have also attached the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner Fact Sheet 7 - Charges, for your information.

Regards

Freedom of Information Coordinator
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

GPO Box 594, Canberra, ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 6495 (Direct) or Toll free: 1800 075 001 (Switchboard)
Fax: 02 6275 1347

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I am seeking to have charges waived for this FOI request on the basis of public interest.

I do so on the basis of the following information.

Due to a flaw or quirk in The Motor Vehicles Standards Act legislation Australian consumers are paying foreign corporations significantly inflated prices for products that are sold into other markets (the US, New Zealand, etc) with no valid justification as to why this is the case.

In the LC class motorcycle market this inflated price is as much as 30% over these other markets and as the Australian market is worth over a $billion annually, represents excessive profits by these foreign corporations, above and beyond the profit margin these corporations make in these other markets, of as much as $250 million annually. That is $250 million in excess profits being gouged out of Australians by foreign corporations with NO significant benefit to Australia or Australians.

Over the last 3 years I have researched this situation extensively and have documentation that supports the above conclusion.

I have also had extensive online discussion and debates with other LC class motorcycle owners who are frustrated that this price gouging is occurring, that no justification for it is available, and that they are powerless to alter the situation due to an inability to have the legislation causing this issue altered appropriately.

I have had extensive conversations with my MP, Brownwyn Bishop and her office, who understood the issue and were surprised that it could exist but who were unable to get any adequate response when pursing this on my behalf. I have raised this with Senator Ludlum and the Greens, MP Adam Bandt, The Minister Anthony Albanese and his office, and the Parliamentary Secretary Catherine King and her office, and many staff within the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. All to no avail.

This is not to suggest the problem does not exist, nor that it cannot be rectified.

Quite the opposite, in the emails I have received, from the Department, they have admitted that the legislation is largely unnecessary but refuse to review it and will not, or have not, felt any inclination to raise the idea that it should be reviewed with any appropriate authority or caused the review to be initiated.

I seek the documents I have requested to expand my understanding of the discussion, or possibly lack of discussion, that took place within the Department as a result of my communications. I have copies of the emails I sent to the Department, MP's and others, and have copies of their responses, but none of these suggest they took this matter seriously, and I repeat, this is a matter that is costing Australians $250 million annually and benefiting foreign corporations, and appears to have no benefit to Australia or Australians, and as such, should be taken seriously.

Once I have access to the full set of documents I have requested, I intend to pursue this issue to its conclusion and for the public's benefit, either by demanding that a serious conversation take place within the Department and Ministry, if it has not yet happened, or if a serious conversation has happened, that it be reviewed on the basis that significant information must have been overlooked or ignored, as access to the documents I have requested will attest.

And so, as stated initially, I request that charges for this FOI request be waived on the basis that the documentation I am requesting will assist in the effort to achieve a public benefit worth in the order of $250 million annually.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

There has been no update on this since my last response almost a month ago and so I would appreciate an indication of any developments.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Dear Mr Bean

You should expect a response to your request for a waiver of charges by close of business Friday 15 November 2013.

Regards

Freedom of Information Coordinator
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

GPO Box 594, Canberra, ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 6495 (Direct) or Toll free: 1800 075 001 (Switchboard)
Fax: 02 6275 1347

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development


Attachment FOI 14 32 request for waiver decision.pdf
235K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Bean

Request for waiver of charges - FOI 14-32 - Details relating to The Motor Vehicles Standards Act

I refer to your request for access to documents in the possession of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (the Department) in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

A determination regarding your request for a waiver of charges is attached.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the processing of your request. I can be reached by telephone on (02) 6274 6495 (or through the Department’s switchboard number on 1800 075 001) or by email at [email address].

To assist the Department in responding to your future communication on this request, please quote the FOI tracking number located in the subject line.

Regards,

Freedom of Information Coordinator
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

GPO Box 594, Canberra, ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 6495 (Direct) or Toll free: 1800 075 001 (Switchboard)
Fax: 02 6275 1347

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your response. I am reviewing it and will respond shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Please, would it be possible to be provided with an MS-Word version of the PDF that was sent with the November 12th email, thank you.

As indicated in a prior communication, "Printed documents, scanned copies of documents in image format, or documents in portable document format (PDF) will be difficult if not impossible to utilize" so might I also request that documents or information provided in future be in a usable electronic format like MS-Word. Thanks.

I will promptly complete my reply to your November 12th email once I have an electronic document I can cut-and-paste as a reference in my reply.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: Greg L Bean

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Since the Right to Know web site experienced some difficulties and was offline for a number of days, I wanted to confirm that you received my last request.

Yours sincerely,

Greg L Bean

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Dear Mr Bean

Thank you for your emails.

Please see the content of the statement of reasons provided to you on 12 November 2013 in usable format below.

Summary

1. I have made a decision to refuse your request for a waiver or reduction of charges.

Authority to make this decision

2. I, Judith Zielke, Executive Director, Surface Transport Policy, am an officer authorised by the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (the Department) to make decisions about imposing charges in relation to access to documents in the possession of the Department in accordance with section 23(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act).

Background

3. On 16 September 2013, you made a request for access to documents in the possession of the Department. Your request sought access to:

“...copies of all correspondence, including emails, that occurred between me and staff of the Department, related conversations between staff within the Department regarding my request, related conversations between the Minister of the Department and his staff including the Parliamentary Secretary for the Department and her staff regarding my request, and between any of these and my Federal Member of Parliament, Bronwyn Bishop.

The issue I was pursuing has not been resolved to my satisfaction, nor explained with any valid comprehensive and cohesive details. Some, but not all of these conversations, will be tied to a request reference number 2011-123286 issued by the Department.

While I have copies of my email communications and responses to me, I do not have and was not privy to the internal communications between these other involved parties and therefore do not understand the conclusions they have arrived at or why they decided to take no further action without any acknowledgement from me that I had been satisfied.

The timeframe of this communication was between May 2011 and March 2012.

As the response was inadequate, and I have no means to understand how it was arrived at, I request the details of conversations between these other involved participants as I may pursue this matter to a logical conclusion supported by fact rather than opinion and a dismissive attitude.”

4. On the same date you provided further clarification about the scope of your request as follows:

“My original request, for which this FOI request is now seeking that I be provided with all related communication, was about the price gouging by foreign corporations that is only possible due to the very curious restrictions that exist in the Motor Vehicle Transport Act.

My communications, directly with the Department or through my Federal Member, Bronwyn Bishop, were with a number of Departmental staff and were, for my part, all sent by me and responded to from the Department at my [greg at acaze dot com] email address. I am uncertain what email address B Bishop used to communicate with the Department, or who she communicated with.

I am also uncertain what conversations took place internally within the Department as I was not copied into these communications.

It is copies of this full set of communications I seek to have provided to me.

I expect that the communications would have referenced the 2011-123286 request ID, or that a search of communications within the Departments email server for emails received from me, sent to me, or from and to B. Bishop would provide excellent start and end points to communications that likely included many internal staff, the Minister, A Albanese, the Parliamentary Secretary, C. King, and staff within their offices.”

5. On 27 September 2013, the Department sought further clarification about the scope of your request.

6. On 14 October 2013, the Department provided you with an estimate of charges for $860.73.

7. On 16 October 2013, you requested a waiver of the charges associated with your request on the basis that access to the documents was in the interest of the general public.

Decision

8. I have made a decision to refuse your request for waiver or reduction of charges associated with processing your FOI request.

Reasons for decision

9. I am not satisfied that the documents are in the interest of the general public or a substantial section of the public.

10. In your request you have indicated that you believe it is in the public interest to waive charges. You consider the documents you are requesting will assist you to pursue the issue of what you believe to be high costs of imported vehicles in Australia, and that seeking change will result in a public benefit in the order of $250 million annually. You have also indicated that you feel the Department has not taken your concerns seriously, nor taken action to review the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989
(the MVSA) in light of the issues you have raised.

11. However, you have not provided evidence to support your claim that the documents you have requested are a matter of interest to the public, nor that the release of the documents at no cost would benefit the public. In particular, I note that you are requesting documents that are already in your possession (correspondence between yourself and the Department or Minister).

12. Furthermore, you have indicated that you believe there is a ‘flaw or quirk’ in the MVSA that has resulted in Australian consumers paying more for vehicles. I understand that you have previously received correspondence from the Department and the Hon Catherine King MP, former Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport explaining the functions of the MVSA, the Australian Design Rules, the vehicle type approval system, and concessional import schemes. The issues you have raised about trade and vehicle costs in Australia, do not relate to the objects or operation of the MVSA, or the role of this Department in administering the MVSA.

13. Accordingly, I do not believe there is a public interest in the issues you have raised, rather it is a matter where you believe Government policy and legislation should be altered to allow for cheaper vehicles in the Australian market. As such, I have decided not to waive charges.


14. Please be aware that the Department has recently conducted some preliminary consultation on whether a review of the Act is necessary. You can find out more about this initial consultation at <http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/vehicle...> (including the consultation paper and responses). Some submissions identified the need to consider the cost of vehicles in Australia. It is expected that there will be further consultation in future. Any comments you wish to provide would be welcome in any future review.

Your rights of review

15. If you disagree with the Department’s decision to impose charges in relation to your FOI request, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. There are two ways you can ask for review of a decision: internal review by the Department, and external review by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

Internal Review

16. You can ask the Department to review its decision to impose a charge. There is no charge for internal review. You must apply within 30 days of being notified of the decision, unless the Department extends the application time. You should contact the Department if you wish to seek an extension. The Department must make a review decision within 30 days. If it does not do so, its original decision is considered to be affirmed. The review will be carried out by a different departmental officer, usually someone at a more senior level. You must apply in writing and you can lodge your application in one of the following ways:

Post: FOI Coordinator
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
GPO Box 594
Canberra ACT 2601
Fax: (02) 6275 1347
Email: [email address]

Information Commissioner Review

17. You can ask the OAIC to review the Department’s decision to impose a charge and/or the preliminary assessment of charges. The Information Commissioner is an independent office holder who can review the decisions of agencies and ministers under the FOI Act. The Information Commissioner also investigates complaints about agency actions under the FOI Act. However, if you are complaining that the Department’s decision is wrong, it will be treated as an application for a review. You do not need to seek an internal review from the Department before seeking an internal review from the Information Commissioner. However, going through the Department’s internal review process gives the Department the opportunity to reconsider its initial decision, and your needs may be met more quickly without undergoing an external review process. The Information Commissioner’s review is free. You must apply to the Information Commissioner within 60 days of being given notice of the decision. You can ask the Information Commissioner for an extension of time to apply, and this may be granted if the Information Commissioner considers it is reasonable in the circumstances.
You must apply in writing and you can lodge your application in one of the following ways:

Online: www.oaic.gov.au
Post: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 2999, Canberra ACT 2601
Facsimile: (02) 9284 9666
Email: [email address]
In person: Level 3, 175 Pitt Street, Sydney 2000

18. More information about your review rights under the FOI Act is available in Fact Sheet 12 published by the OAIC: www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/f....

Contacts

19. If you wish to discuss this decision, please do not hesitate to contact the Department’s FOI coordinator on (02) 6274 6495 or via email at [email address].

Kind regards

Freedom of Information (FOI) Coordinator
Governance, Planning and Reporting Section | Governance and Reporting Branch | Corporate Services Division
Department of Infrastructure and Regional DevelopmentD
D (02) 6274 6495

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From: FOI
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Dear Mr Bean

It has now been 62 days since the Department provided you with a decision to impose charges on the processing of your FOI request. To date we have not received deposit or payment or a request for internal review of charges from you. As such, your FOI request is now considered to be deemed withdrawn in accordance with section 29(2) of the FOI Act.

Kind regards

Freedom of Information (FOI) Coordinator
Governance, Planning and Reporting Section | Governance and Reporting Branch | Corporate Services Division
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
(02) 6274 6495

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development only: