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Documents relating to the BIS Global Economy Meetings (2019)

Luke Ward made this Freedom of Information request to Reserve Bank of Australia

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From: Luke Ward

Delivered

Dear Reserve Bank of Australia,

Could you please provide any documents relating to the Bimonthly Global Economy Meeting held at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland during the course of 2019. (BIS reference and attendees list: https://www.bis.org/about/bimonthly_meet... )

Such documents may include: agendas, minutes, committee papers and notes from the meetings, correspondence regarding the meetings and travel itineraries for Reserve Bank staff attending.

Yours faithfully,
Luke Ward

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From: FOI
Reserve Bank of Australia

Dear Mr Ward,

In terms of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, I confirm receipt of your request and advise that processing of it commenced on 26 July 2019.

Please be advised that, consistent with the provisions of the Information Publication Scheme, the Bank’s policy is to release all documents provided to applicants under the FOI Act 1982 on the Bank’s website close to the same time they are provided to the applicant. The publication of any FOI related documents on our website will also be notified to the Bank’s RSS feed subscriber list.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Lomas | FOI Officer | Secretary's Department
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA | 65 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
p: +61 2 9551 9744 | e: [RBA request email] | w: www.rba.gov.au

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From: FOI
Reserve Bank of Australia


Attachment D17 387680 Information Note Rights to Review of Decisions Made Freedom of Information Act 1982.pdf
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Dear Mr Ward,

Further to your recent request seeking

documents relating to the Bimonthly Global Economy Meeting held at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland during the course of 2019

I advise that I have identified documents relevant to your request (agendas, discussion papers, meeting programs, etc.) but have decided to deny access to them in terms of the following exemption sections in the FOI Act.

Section 33(a)(iii) – documents concerning . . . international relations
My view is that release of the documents ‘would, or could reasonably be expected to, cause damage to the international relations of (the Bank)’. The Global Economy Meeting is a high level private meeting of global central banks and the RBA is a member of the group. Discussions are conducted in confidence, with the expectation that full and frank exchanges of views can take place in the knowledge that material relating to meetings would not be publicly disclosed. The release of any of these materials publicly could jeopardise the RBA's participation in the meetings and would be damaging to the RBA's relationships with other member central banks.

Section 45(1) – documents containing material obtained in confidence, the disclosure of which would found an action by a person (other than an agency or the Commonwealth) for breach of confidence.
Materials relating to the meeting are provided to the RBA by the Bank for International Settlements on a confidential basis. Disclosure would be in breach of that confidence, and would provide a basis on which the BIS could decide to sue the RBA for breach of confidence.

In accordance with the FOI Act, I enclose a document detailing rights to review of my decision.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Dickman | Secretary | Secretary's Department  
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA | 65 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
p: +61 2 9551 9744 | e: [RBA request email] | w: www.rba.gov.au

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From: Luke Ward

Delivered

Dear Reserve Bank of Australia,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Reserve Bank of Australia's handling of my FOI request 'Documents relating to the BIS Global Economy Meetings (2019)'.

Contained within this FOI request was the example of travel records for RBA staff attending the meetings in question. These internally generated documents will not fall under the cited exemption of 'material obtained in confidence', nor will they constitute material relating to the subject matter of international relations and should therefore be disclosed.

In addition, I request a review of the blanket refusal to release documents pertaining to the subject matters of the meetings on the basis that;
- There may exist internally generated RBA documents which are not 'received' from the BIS which can be released (if necessary with suitable redactions).
- The RBA may be shielded from breach of confidence litigation by way of its sovereign or state immunity.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/d...

Yours faithfully,

Luke Ward

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From: FOI
Reserve Bank of Australia

Dear Mr Ward,

In terms of the FOI Act 1982, I confirm receipt of your request for internal review of the Bank's decision in relation to your request.

Yours sincerely

Phil Lomas | FOI Officer | Secretary's Department  
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA | 65 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
p: +61 2 9551 9744 | e: [RBA request email] | w: www.rba.gov.au

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From: FOI
Reserve Bank of Australia

Dear Mr Ward,

I have been appointed in terms of s54C of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to review the decision made by Mr Anthony Dickman, the Reserve Bank’s Secretary, on 21 August 2019 in relation to your FOI request. My appointment was made on the basis that I was not involved in or consulted in the making of the original decision by Mr Dickman. Furthermore, I am not directly involved in the subject matter of your FOI request – namely, the BIS Global Economy Meetings. As a result, I do not hold any preconceived views in regard to your request. Consistent with the provisions of s54C of the Act, I have, therefore, reviewed the terms of your request, the actions taken to process your request, and the original decision made by Mr Dickman.

Your original request sought documents relating to the content of the Global Economy Meeting regularly held at the Bank for International Settlements. This request was denied on the basis that the documents were deemed not suitable for public release under sections 33(a)(iii) and 45(1) of the Act. These sections relate to the sensitivity of international relationships and the confidentiality of the material. In conducting my review, I looked closely at both of these aspects – ie the sensitivity of the Reserve Bank’s relationship with the BIS and the confidentiality of the documents. I also examined sections 33(a)(iii) and 45(1) of the Act to understand their intent and whether they are applicable in assessing your request and the determinations made by Mr Dickman. It is clear from my examination of the relevant documents that those provided to the Reserve Bank by the BIS were done so on a restricted (ie confidential) basis and are clearly marked as such. I investigated whether any briefing documents for the Global Economy Meeting were prepared by the Bank and have established, through searching and questioning relevant staff in the policy area, that no briefing documents have been prepared for the Global Economy Meetings covered by the period of your request (i.e. since 1 January 2019).

I also investigated the comment in your most recent email that the Reserve Bank could release the confidential BIS-produced documents because it is shielded by ‘sovereign or state immunity’. I found no evidence that confidential documents held by the Reserve Bank are subject to such immunity or, indeed, that such immunity exists for the Reserve Bank. I did find, however, that confidential documents provided to the Reserve Bank by the BIS are exempt from public disclosure under section 33(b) of the Act. This section exempts from disclosure… ‘information or matter communicated in-confidence by … an international organisation to (the Bank)’.

In summary, based on the relevant sections of the FOI Act and the confidential nature of the documents provided by the BIS relating to the BIS Global Economy Meetings, I find on review that Mr Dickman’s denial of your request for those documents is appropriate. I must, therefore, uphold Mr Dickman’s original decision regarding the documents.

Your original request also sought documents related to the travel itineraries of Reserve Bank staff attending the BIS Global Economy Meetings. This request was also denied. In this case, the denial was made on the basis that, without proper context, the documents are of little interest. On review, I find that this is not a strong argument for denying access to documents and that a better course of action would have been to consult with you to determine if you still retained an interest in receiving them even though they contain little substance. In short, you should have been given the opportunity to advise the Reserve Bank whether or not you still wished to access the documents. Accordingly, now that it is clear that you retain an interest in the travel documents, I find that the Reserve Bank should process that part of your request. Note that my decision on review does not bind the Reserve Bank to releasing the relevant documents – your request still needs to be assessed against any exemptions that might apply under the FOI Act. Please note, too, that in the normal course there would be a charge for the search, retrieval, and review of these documents. However, because this was not made clear to you in any previous correspondence, I have instructed that the charges be waived. Reserve Bank staff in the area that handles FOI requests will provide a response to you in relation to travel documents within the mandated timeframe under the FOI legislation. This will be no later than 30 days after the lodgement of your request for internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Lindsay Boulton | Assistant Governor, Business Services
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA | 65 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
ph: +61 2 9551 8111 | e: [RBA request email]

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From: Luke Ward

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Thank you for completing the internal review of this decision.

As acknowledged in your response I still retain an interest in any travel documents, itineraries etc relating to RBA staff attendance at these meetings. I would appreciated if you could finalise this remaining aspect of my request as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Luke Ward

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From: FOI
Reserve Bank of Australia

Dear Mr Ward,

We are in the final stages of processing that aspect of your request and will provide a response to you as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Lomas | FOI Officer | Secretary's Department  
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA | 65 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
p: +61 2 9551 9744 | e: [RBA request email] | w: www.rba.gov.au

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From: FOI
Reserve Bank of Australia


Attachment RBAFOI 192005 documents for release part 1.pdf
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Attachment RBAFOI 192005 documents for release part 2.pdf
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Attachment D17 387680 Rights to Review of Decisions Made Freedom of Information Act 1982.pdf
99K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Ward,

I refer to your request seeking travel documentation relating to the attendance of Reserve Bank officials at the Global Economy Meetings (GEM) held at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel in January, March and May of 2019.

We have identified 54 documents relevant to your request and enclose them with this email. They relate to Basel-related travel by the Governor, Philip Lowe, and the Bank's Chief Representative in Europe, Michael Davies. They are the only two officers of the RBA to have attended the GEMs in this period.

Redactions to the documents released to you have been made in the following terms:

Section 47 - Documents disclosing . . . commercially valuable information.
Redactions have been made in terms of this section to the pricing offered to the RBA in relation to flights and hotels. For the flights, the RBA participates in the 'Whole of Australian Government' travel procurement program. By virtue of participating in this program, the RBA is offered lower rates and more flexible fare conditions than it could achieve by purchasing these services outside the program. We have been advised by the Department of Finance that the rates and conditions represent commercially valuable information and that disclosure of the information would cause commercial and reputational harm to the suppliers (i.e. the airlines) and that disclosure may put at risk their other commercial relationships. For hotels, we secure discounted confidential rates through a corporate travel provider and/or via the Bank for International Settlements. Those rates are also commercially sensitive, and disclosure of them could cause commercial and reputational harm to the hotel suppliers, and put at risk their other commercial relationships.

Section 47F - personal privacy
Redactions have been made in terms of this section to phone numbers, email addresses, frequent flyer membership numbers and Mr Davies' middle names. This information has been redacted to reduce the possibility of fraudulent activity by scammers and others outside the RBA, who could try to use the personal information to defraud the RBA via making false bookings or creating fake identifying documents. As section 47F is a public interest conditional exemption, I must consider whether the giving of access to conditionally exempt documents is in the greater public interest than not to give access. I have decided that it is not in the public interest potentially to increase the RBA's exposure to fraud by disclosing this material.

As provided for by the FOI Act, I enclose a document detailing your rights to review of my decision.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Dickman | Secretary | Secretary's Department  
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA | 65 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000
p: +61 2 9551 9744 | e: [RBA request email] | w: www.rba.gov.au

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