Directions from Ministers in relation to FOI requests

Ben Fairless made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Home Affairs

Department of Home Affairs did not have the information requested.

From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear Department of Immigration and Border Protection,

I request, under the Freedom of Information Act, documents
(including, but not limited to, emails, letters or other notes to
which the department has access) which reference requests,
decisions or opinions by either the minister currently responsible for the
Department or any other currently serving federal minister on
how the department should handle Freedom of Information (FOI)
requests.

I also request that the charges associated with this request be
waived on public interest grounds, due to the importance of FOI
(and requests, decisions or opinions by Ministers in
relation to how the department manages FOI requests) has in keeping
the Government to account.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Fairless

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From: FOI

UNCLASSIFIED

Our references: FA 14/02/01093; ADF2014/6570

 

Dear Ben Fairless

 

I am writing to you in response to your email dated 22 February 2014,
purportedly under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and asking
that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection provide you with
a copy of the following document:

 

I request, under the Freedom of Information Act, documents (including, but
not limited to, emails, letters or other notes to which the department has
access) which reference requests, decisions or opinions by either the
minister currently responsible for the Department or any other currently
serving federal minister on how the department should handle Freedom of
Information (FOI) requests.

 

The purpose of this email is to advise you that I consider the request may
be invalid under the FOI Act.  I will explain my reasons in full below.

 

Requirements of the FOI Act

 

The requirements for a valid FOI request are set out in section 15(2) of
the Act, which provides that:

 

The request must:

 

(a)  be in writing; and

 

(aa) state that the request is an application for the purposes of this
Act; and

 

(b) provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably
necessary to enable a responsible officer of the agency, or the Minister,
to identify it; and

 

(c) give details of how notices under this Act may be sent to the
applicant (for example, by providing an electronic address to which
notices may be sent by electronic communication).

 

The Act envisages that an agency and the applicant will, where necessary
and appropriate, engage in dialogue about the request.  The Act also
envisages that there may be instances when an agency will wish to send a
formal legal notice to an applicant, for example, when the agency believes
that it would be a substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources to
process the request or intends to charge the applicant for processing the
request.  In addition, the Act provides applicants with review rights
which are activated by the act of the agency ‘notifying’ the applicant of
the decision.

 

In order to engage in this dialogue, the applicant must provide an address
through which the applicant intends to be contactable.  It should be an
address through which the agency will be able to write to the applicant
and receive a response to the communication. It must also be an address
through which the agency can reasonably assume that legal notices will be
received, read and responded to by the applicant.  This requirement has
been an element of a valid FOI request since the Act was first enacted in
1982.

 

Issues regarding your request

 

I am not satisfied that the email address you have provided meets the
requirement of ‘details of how notices under this Act may be sent to the
applicant’ (s.15(2)(b) of the Act).  In particular, it does not appear to
be an address to which the agency could send a ‘notice’.  The address you
have provided appears to be an address for publication of correspondence
on the internet.

 

Next steps

 

Please confirm by writing to [1][DIBP request email] that the email address you
have provided is an address to which the Department can send you notices,
by close of business Thursday 6 March 2014.  The request will then be
validated.

 

If you have not provided confirmation by that time, the request will be
closed as invalid.

 

Yours sincerely

Janelle

 

__________________________________

Janelle Raineri

FOI Inbox Manager

FOI & Privacy Policy Section
Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Email: [2][DIBP request email]

 

 

UNCLASSIFIED

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1. mailto:[DIBP request email]
2. mailto:[DIBP request email]

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From: Ben Fairless

Delivered

Dear Janelle,

I write in reference to your email in relation to my FOI request (Your Reference: FA 14/02/01093; ADF2014/6570). A copy of my request and responses to date can be found at https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/d...

I can confirm the RightToKnow email address is a valid email address to which I can be sent notices.

In case you were not aware, RightToKnow provides a way for members of the public to submit FOI requests and respond to emails from agencies in relation to FOI requests. In addition, it also publishes the request, any correspondence between the requestor and the agency, and the final decision of the agency online in a searchable, easy to read format on the internet.

I would argue that the way the Right to Know website works would be no different to posting a copy of our correspondence on a website.

Other than the DIBP, I am not aware of a single Agency or Minister listed on Right to Know that has raised concerns in relation to s15(2)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act.

I respectfully request (as a user of RightToKnow, and not on behalf of its administrators or owners) that the Department cease raising concerns under s.15 (2) (b) of the Freedom of Information Act when it comes to Right to Know. It is the only agency that has done so to date.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Fairless

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From: FOI

UNCLASSIFIED

Our references: FA 14/02/01093; ADF2014/6570

Dear Ben Fairless

Thank you for your prompt response and confirmation that the department can contact you at the right to know email address: [FOI #529 email].

All correspondence including notices under the FOI Act and a decision on your request will be forwarded to the above email address.

Yours sincerely
Janelle
__________________________________
Janelle Raineri
FOI Inbox Manager
FOI & Privacy Policy Section
Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Email: [DIBP request email]

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From: FOI


Attachment Fairless Acknowledgement of FOI Request.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Our references: FA 14/02/01093; ADF2014/6570

 

Good morning,

 

Please find attached the acknowledgement of receipt for your recent FOI
Request. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

_____________________________________

Shannon Bevan
FOI Officer

FOI & Privacy Policy Section

Ministerial, Executive and External Accountability Branch (MEEAB)
Department of Immigration and Border Protection

( (02) 6264 4667

 

UNCLASSIFIED

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From: FOI


Attachment FA 140201093 Fairless Decision Letter s.24A.pdf
377K Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED

Our references: FA 14/02/01093; ADF2014/6570

 

Dear Mr Fairless,

 

I refer to your FOI request received on 22 February 2014, seeking access
to the following:

 

"documents (including, but not limited to, emails, letters or other notes
to which the department has access) which reference requests, decisions or
opinions by either the minister currently responsible for the Department
or any other currently serving federal minister on how the department
should handle Freedom of Information (FOI) requests."

 

I have made a final decision on this request.

 

Please see attached my signed Decision Letter and Decision Record. 

 

This request has now been closed.

 

Regards

 

 

Steven Hocking
Assistant Director

FOI & Privacy Policy Section
Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Telephone: (02) 6264 1007
Email: [1][email address]

 

UNCLASSIFIED

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