Documents related to activities undertaken to strengthen ties between Indonesia and Australia in Science, Technology and Engineering

Richard Smith made this Freedom of Information request to Australia-Indonesia Institute

The request was refused by Australia-Indonesia Institute.

From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear Australia-Indonesia Institute,

According to the website of the Australia-Indonesia Institute, amongst all of the stated functions of the Institute are the following aims:

a. to make recommendations to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Trade for the broadening of the Australian experience of Indonesia in relation to:

...

iii. the identification of possibilities for cooperation in science and technology;

...

vii. the strengthening of institutional links between universities, museums, libraries, technical colleges, research institutes, professional organisations and appropriate non- government organisations.

As Indonesia is a close neighbour and with a large, diverse population who is rapidly progressing in socioeconomic development, it should be of high priority for the Australian Government to foster a strong and productive relationship between our two countries, particularly in science, research and engineering.

Accordingly, I request the following Government Information:

a) Documents relating to all recommendations made by the Institute to the Minister for possibilities for cooperation in science and technology in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and

b) Documents relating to efforts, successful or otherwise, made by the Institute to establish or develop institutional links between universities in Australia and in Indonesia in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and

c) Documents relating to efforts, successful or otherwise, made by the Institute to establish or develop institutional links between research institutes in Australia and in Indonesia in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and

d) Documents relating to efforts, successful or otherwise, made by the Institute to establish or develop institutional links between professional organisations in Australia and in Indonesia in each of the years 2014 to 2018.

If this can be answered as informal request, please do so.

Otherwise, please proceed with this as a formal request under the Freedom of Information principles & framework, i.e. the Freedom of Information Act 1982 & other associated guidelines and regulations.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Smith

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From: FOI
Australia-Indonesia Institute

UNCLASSIFIED

 

Our ref:  1812-F2111

 

Dear Mr Smith

Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

 

Thank you for your below e-mail, seeking access under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) to:

 

a) Documents relating to all recommendations made by the Institute to the
Minister for possibilities for cooperation in science and technology in
each of the years 2014 to 2018; and

b) Documents relating to efforts, successful or otherwise, made by the
Institute to establish or develop institutional links between universities
in Australia and in Indonesia in each of the years 2014 to 2018; and

c) Documents relating to efforts, successful or otherwise, made by the
Institute to establish or develop institutional links between research
institutes in Australia and in Indonesia in each of the years 2014 to
2018; and

d) Documents relating to efforts,  successful or otherwise, made by the
Institute to establish or develop institutional links between professional
organisations in Australia and in Indonesia in each of the years 2014 to
2018.

Practical refusal reason

 

Parts b-d of your request, in its current form, have effectively captured
all grant applications received and assessed by the Institute since 2014. 
This is in excess of 600 applications, plus the associated documentation. 
I am therefore of the view that this part of your request cannot be
processed without an unreasonable diversion of the Department’s resources.

 

Notice is hereby given under section 24AB(2) of the FOI Act of an
intention to refuse to grant access to the documents sought.  The
practical refusal reason is that the work involved in processing the
request would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of DFAT
from its other operations.

 

In deciding that this practical refusal reason exists, I have given
consideration to how DFAT could proceed to process your request, and the
time and resources that would be involved in doing so. I have been
assisted in this task by estimates provided by members of staff in the
Australia-Indonesia Institute  of DFAT to determine an estimate of the
probable resource demands posed by your FOI request.

 

I am therefore of the opinion that processing your request in its current
form would be a substantial and unreasonable diversion of DFAT’s resources
within the meaning of section 24AA(1). 

 

Consultation process

In accordance with section 24AB(2)(e), the consultation period during
which you may consult with me to revise the scope of your request is 14
days after the day you are given this notice. Please note that if you do
not take this opportunity to consult, in accordance with section
24AB(7)(a), your request will be taken to have been withdrawn under
section 24AB(6).

 

You may wish to visit the AII website
([1]https://dfat.gov.au/people-to-people/fou...
which publishes 2016, 2017 and 2018 successful grant projects as well as
Guidelines for how grants are selected and assessed. In addition, DFAT’s
annual reports from 2014-2018 are available online and reference the
Institute’s achievements under priority areas.

 

For example, see the DFAT Annual Report 2014-15 at page 149, available at:
[2]https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publication...

 

All annual reports can be accessed at
[3]https://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publication...

 

Regarding part a) of your request, please be aware that the recommendation
you refer to (7. A. iii) is taken from the Order constituting the
Australia-Indonesia Institute, established in 1989, and is part of a
broader mandate of functions. The recommendations the Institute makes to
the Foreign Minister are at a very high level, often pertaining to
nominations for board members in the respective priority areas, not in
respect to grant projects. The Institute initiates and supports activities
consistent with its goals and on the basis of a strategic program set by
the Board. In light of this information, you may wish to consider also
revising this aspect of your request.

 

I am the DFAT officer with whom you may consult if you wish to revise the
request to a narrower scope such that it could in fact be processed. I may
be contacted by email at: [4][email address] and I am happy to take any
reasonable steps provide you, so far as is reasonably practicable, with
any information that I can to assist you in amending your request under
the FOI Act.

 

Please note that during this period of consultation, the statutory
timeframe under section 15(5) of the FOI Act for the processing of your
request is on hold (see section 24AB(8) for details).

 

I have attached a copy of sections 24, 24AA and 24AB of the FOI Act for
your information.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Lindsay Buckingham

Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section

 

Attachment A

24  Power to refuse request—diversion of resources etc.

            (1)        If an agency or Minister is satisfied, when dealing
with a request for a document, that a practical refusal reason exists in
relation to the request (see section 24AA), the agency or Minister:

            (a)        must undertake a request consultation process (see
section 24AB); and

                     (b)  if, after the request consultation process, the
agency or Minister is satisfied that the practical refusal reason still
exists—the agency or Minister may refuse to give access to the document in
accordance with the request.

            (2)        For the purposes of this section, the agency or
Minister may treat 2 or more requests as a single request if the agency or
Minister is satisfied that:

            (a)        the requests relate to the same document or
documents; or

                     (b)  the requests relate to documents, the subject
matter of which is substantially the same.

24AA  When does a practical refusal reason exist?

            (1)        For the purposes of section 24, a practical refusal
reason exists in relation to a request for a document if either (or both)
of the following applies:

            (a)        the work involved in processing the request:

                              (i)  in the case of an agency—would
substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its
other operations; or

                             (ii)  in the case of a Minister—would
substantially and unreasonably interfere with the performance of the
Minister’s functions;

                     (b)  the request does not satisfy the requirement in
paragraph 15(2)(b) (identification of documents).

            (2)        Subject to subsection (3), but without limiting the
matters to which the agency or Minister may have regard, in deciding
whether a practical refusal reason exists, the agency or Minister must
have regard to the resources that would have to be used for the following:

            (a)        identifying, locating or collating the documents
within the filing system of the agency, or the office of the Minister;

                     (b)  deciding whether to grant, refuse or defer
access to a document to which the request relates, or to grant access to
an edited copy of such a document, including resources that would have to
be used for:

                              (i)  examining the document; or

                             (ii)  consulting with any person or body in
relation to the request;

                     (c)  making a copy, or an edited copy, of the
document;

                     (d)  notifying any interim or final decision on the
request.

            (3)        In deciding whether a practical refusal reason
exists, an agency or Minister must not have regard to:

            (a)        any reasons that the applicant gives for requesting
access; or

                     (b)  the agency’s or Minister’s belief as to what the
applicant’s reasons are for requesting access; or

                     (c)  any maximum amount, specified in the
regulations, payable as a charge for processing a request of that kind.

24AB  What is a request consultation process?

Scope

             (1)  This section sets out what is a request consultation
process for the purposes of section 24.

Requirement to notify

             (2)  The agency or Minister must give the applicant a written
notice stating the following:

                     (a)  an intention to refuse access to a document in
accordance with a request;

                     (b)  the practical refusal reason;

                     (c)  the name of an officer of the agency or member
of staff of the Minister (the contact person) with whom the applicant may
consult during a period;

                     (d)  details of how the applicant may contact the
contact person;

                     (e)  that the period (the consultation period) during
which the applicant may consult with the contact person is 14 days after
the day the applicant is given the notice.

Assistance to revise request

             (3)  If the applicant contacts the contact person during the
consultation period in accordance with the notice, the agency or Minister
must take reasonable steps to assist the applicant to revise the request
so that the practical refusal reason no longer exists.

             (4)  For the purposes of subsection (3), reasonable steps
includes the following:

                     (a)  giving the applicant a reasonable opportunity to
consult with the contact person;

                     (b)  providing the applicant with any information
that would assist the applicant to revise the request.

Extension of consultation period

             (5)  The contact person may, with the applicant’s agreement,
extend the consultation period by written notice to the applicant.

Outcome of request consultation process

             (6)  The applicant must, before the end of the consultation
period, do one of the following, by written notice to the agency or
Minister:

                     (a)  withdraw the request;

                     (b)  make a revised request;

                     (c)  indicate that the applicant does not wish to
revise the request.

             (7)  The request is taken to have been withdrawn under
subsection (6) at the end of the consultation period if:

                     (a)  the applicant does not consult the contact
person during the consultation period in accordance with the notice; or

                     (b)  the applicant does not do one of the things
mentioned in subsection (6) before the end of the consultation period.

Consultation period to be disregarded in calculating processing period

             (8)  The period starting on the day an applicant is given a
notice under subsection (2) and ending on the day the applicant does one
of the things mentioned in paragraph (6)(b) or (c) is to be disregarded in
working out the 30 day period mentioned in paragraph 15(5)(b).

Note:       Paragraph 15(5)(b) requires that an agency or Minister take
all reasonable steps to notify an applicant of a decision on the
applicant’s request within 30 days after the request is made.

No more than one request consultation process required

             (9)  To avoid doubt, this section only obliges the agency or
Minister to undertake a request consultation process once for any
particular request.

 

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From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear Mr Buckingham,

RE: FOI Request 1812-F2111

Thank you for your email of 19 December regarding my request for Government Information.

In light of the points you have raised in your correspondence, and considering that the 14 days allowed for in the Act falls over the Christmas/New Year period, I would like to propose an extension to the consultation period as per s24AB(5) of the Act until 14th January 2019.

Please confirm the agreement of the AII (through DFAT) to the extension of the consultation period.

I look forward to hearing from you and Merry Christmas.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Smith

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From: FOI
Australia-Indonesia Institute

UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Smith,

The Department agrees to extend the consultation period until 14 January 2019.

Yours sincerely,
DFAT FOI Team.

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