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Documents relating to the recruitment of the Queensland National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar

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Dear Federal Court of Australia,

I make this request for access to documents. Unless you intend to provide the documents pursuant to an administrative release, this request for documents should be construed as a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth). All documents can be provided by return email in digital form.

I have reviewed the annual reports of the Federal Court since 2018. It appears that two people have held the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Federal Court: Murray Belcher and Peter Schmidt.

In an article published in the Australian on 10 February 2022, the journalists state that “the most senior registrar in Queensland ended up in a position lower than the SES classifications other state registrars were given.”

I request access to the following documents:

a) the vacancy notification, published in the Public Service Gazette or elsewhere, for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar vacancy that Mr Belcher applied to fill; and
b) the vacancy notification, published in the Public Service Gazette or elsewhere, for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar vacancy that Mr Schmidt applied to fill; and
c) the selection report produced by the person or persons who undertook the selection process that culminated in Mr Belcher being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court; and
d) the selection report produced by the person or persons who undertook the selection process that culminated in Mr Schmidt being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court; and
e) all classification assessments for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar position in the Queensland Registry of the Court from 1 January 2018 to the date of this request; and
f) any and all certifications issued by the representative of the Australian Public Service Commissioner for the selection process that culminated in Mr Belcher being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court; and
g) any and all certifications issued by the representative of the Australian Public Service Commissioner for the selection process that culminated in Mr Schmidt being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court.

In relation to the selection reports requested under (c) of this request, you are welcome to redact the personal details and the comments of the selection committee in respect of all unsuccessful candidates (i.e. everyone other than Mr Belcher). Please do not redact the names and signatures of the members of the selection committee, and please do not redact any date information on the selection report. I refer you to the Federal Court’s disclosure log and document 12 of disclosure PA2925-06/13. That is the kind of document that I am after (in terms of redactions).

In relation to the selection reports requested under (d) of this request, you are welcome to redact the personal details and the comments of the selection committee in respect of all unsuccessful candidates (i.e. everyone other than Mr Schmidt). Please do not redact the names and signatures of the members of the selection committee, and please do not redact any date information on the selection report. I refer you to the Federal Court’s disclosure log and document 12 of disclosure PA2925-06/13. That is the kind of document that I am after (in terms of redactions).

Yours faithfully,

remy

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL
Dear Remy

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

4 Attachments

  • Attachment

    2022 05 02 FOI Decision Remy 1.pdf

    315K Download View as HTML

  • Attachment

    Gazette Notice National Judicial Registrar District Registrar May 2018.pdf

    149K Download View as HTML

  • Attachment

    Gazette Notice National Judicial Registrar District Registrar QLD September 2020.pdf

    116K Download View as HTML

  • Attachment

    Commissioners Representative Certificate National Judicial Registrar and District Registrar QLD redacted.pdf

    333K Download View as HTML

OFFICIAL
Dear Sir/Madam

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

Dear Federal Court of Australia,

Please thank Ms Hammerton Cole for her decision. I do not think that her decision is correct.

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Federal Court of Australia's handling of my FOI request 'Documents relating to the recruitment of the Queensland National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar'.

Under the FOI Act, I requested access to the following documents:

a) the vacancy notification, published in the Public Service Gazette or elsewhere, for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar vacancy that Mr Belcher applied to fill; and
b) the vacancy notification, published in the Public Service Gazette or elsewhere, for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar vacancy that Mr Schmidt applied to fill; and
c) the selection report produced by the person or persons who undertook the selection process that culminated in Mr Belcher being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court; and
d) the selection report produced by the person or persons who undertook the selection process that culminated in Mr Schmidt being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court; and
e) all classification assessments for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar position in the Queensland Registry of the Court from 1 January 2018 to the date of this request; and
f) any and all certifications issued by the representative of the Australian Public Service Commissioner for the selection process that culminated in Mr Belcher being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court; and
g) any and all certifications issued by the representative of the Australian Public Service Commissioner for the selection process that culminated in Mr Schmidt being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court.

Ms Hammerton Cole has provided access to documents in response to (a), (b) and (f). I thank her for doing so.

Ms Hammerton Cole has refused to provide any documents in response to (g) but that is understandable because Mr Schmidt was engaged to fill a position that was classified at the Executive Level 2 classification according to the vacancy notification provided in response to (b).

PARAGRAPH E

Ms Hammerton Cole has refused to provide access to the documents requested under paragraph (e) of the FOI request.

I do not accept this.

It is clearly the case that the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role in the Queensland Registry of the Federal Court was classified at the SES1 classification in May 2018 (see the vacancy notification provided in response to (a) of my FOI request). It is clearly the case that the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role in the Queensland Registry of the Federal Court was classified at the EL2 classification in September 2020 (see the vacancy notification provided in response to (b) of my FOI request).

There must have been a recorded process of re-evaluation of the role by reference to the Commissioner's work level standards before the vacancy notification provided to me in response to (b) of my FOI request was published in the Public Service Gazette. How could it have been determined that the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role should have been reclassified from an SES1 classification to an EL2 classification if a process of re-evaluation of the role by reference to the Commissioner's work level standards was not conducted and recorded?

There are published allegations of senior officials in the Federal Court attempting to evade the capped number of SES positions made available to the Federal Court by the APSC (see Federal Court boss warned on job rule sidestep published on page 2 of The Australian on 9 February 2022). Does the fact that the evaluation documents cannot be found have anything to do with the allegations of senior officials in the Federal Court attempting to evade the capped number of SES positions made available to the Federal Court by the APSC?

I have noticed that this is not a one-off. You have refused to provide the classification evaluations for the Legal 2 and SES1 National Judicial Registrar roles on the basis that the documents could not be found (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/c...). Court officials have also refused to provide the classification evaluation for the National Registrar role that was the subject of an article of the front page of The Australian on 8 February 2022 (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/u...) on the basis that the document could not be found.

Does the fact that no classification evaluation documents are not able to be located by staff at the Federal Court reflect a renegade culture, where classifications are allocated on whims and in a way to cheat employment policies set by the APSC?

PARAGRAPHS C & D

Ms Hammerton Cole has refused to provide access to the documents requested under paragraphs (c) and (d) of the FOI request.

I do not accept these refusals.

Ms Hammerton Cole has failed to properly engage with the terms of my FOI request. In the FOI request I noted:

In relation to the selection reports requested under (c) of this request, you are welcome to redact the personal details and the comments of the selection committee in respect of all unsuccessful candidates (i.e. everyone other than Mr Belcher). Please do not redact the names and signatures of the members of the selection committee, and please do not redact any date information on the selection report. I refer you to the Federal Court’s disclosure log and document 12 of disclosure PA2925-06/13. That is the kind of document that I am after (in terms of redactions).

In relation to the selection reports requested under (d) of this request, you are welcome to redact the personal details and the comments of the selection committee in respect of all unsuccessful candidates (i.e. everyone other than Mr Schmidt). Please do not redact the names and signatures of the members of the selection committee, and please do not redact any date information on the selection report. I refer you to the Federal Court’s disclosure log and document 12 of disclosure PA2925-06/13. That is the kind of document that I am after (in terms of redactions).

No attempt has been made by Ms Hammerton Cole to engage with these comments. Ms Hammerton Cole has entered into a lengthy and, with respect, pointless exercise, claiming that the selection reports are conditionally exempt because they contain deliberative matter. Had Ms Hammerton Cole just read the FOI request, she would have noticed that I was content for all deliberative matter to be removed from the selection report, much in the way that the selection reports for 12 other SES employees at the Federal Court have stripped of deliberative content and published on the Federal Court's disclosure log under PA2925-6/13.

Ms Hammerton Cole has also claimed that the publication of the selection reports noting that Murray Belcher and Peter Schmidt successfully secured the SES1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role and the EL2 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role, respectively, would, or could reasonably be expected to, have a substantial adverse effect on:

* the management or assessment of personnel by the Commonwealth or an agency, or
* the proper and efficient conduct of the operations of an agency.

That is hard to believe.

It is public information that Ms Kate McMullan of the APSC was, under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013, investigating allegations of contraventions of laws of the Commonwealth by senior figures in the management of the Federal Court between 11 May 2020 and 9 December 2020 (see timeline of Ms McMullan's investigation on page 4 of document 9 provided by Giorgina Strangio of the APSC here: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/d...).

How is it that decision makers at the Federal Court were perfectly content to publish 12 selection reports with redactions to the deliberative matter on the Federal Court's disclosure log during Ms McMullan's PID investigation in October 2020 but are unwilling to now publish the selection reports for Murray Belcher and Peter Schmidt? It seems at that time there was no public interest in denying access to the selection reports of 12 employees? Why should there be no public interest in providing them now? If anything, it is in the public interest to now publish those reports because of the allegations of impropriety against senior figures in the Federal Court, which were publicly confirmed by Justice Greenwood in an article in The Australian (see Top judge warned of registrar overhaul published on 10 February 2022 in The Australia and replicated here: https://www.reddit.com/r/auslaw/comments...).

Ms Hammerton Cole claims that the disclosure of personal information would be against the public interest, How could it be?

Take Mr Belcher's selection report as an example. Ms Hammerton Cole has already provided a copy of the vacancy notification for the role that Murray Belcher applied to fill. That role was the SES1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role. Thus, Ms Hammerton Cole has confirmed that Murray Belcher applied for an SES1 role. Ms Hammerton Cole has, in response to my request for "any and all certifications issued by the representative of the Australian Public Service Commissioner for the selection process that culminated in Mr Belcher being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court", provided Ms Vine-Camp's certificate in which Ms Vine-Camp has certified that the selection process for the SES1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role in the Queensland Registry of the Court, which Murray Belcher succeeded in securing (that is implied because Ms Hammerton Cole has provided the certification in response to my request for the certification issued for "the selection process that culminated in Mr Belcher being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Queensland Registry of the Court"). It is, thus, plainly the case that the selection report relates to Murray Belcher. It is public information that Murray Belcher secured the role and that the role was an SES Band 1 role. It is also public information that Warwick Soden and Sia Lagos conspired to demote Mr Belcher unlawfully, because Justice Greenwood is on the record saying as much in The Australian (see Top judge warned of registrar overhaul published on 10 February 2022 in The Australia and replicated here: https://www.reddit.com/r/auslaw/comments...). There is no prejudice to privacy Mr Belcher's privacy because it is clear that the document relates to him based on publicly available documentation. There is also no reasonable public interest claim to be made that his privacy would be sacrificed because Ms Hammerton Cole has already sacrificed his privacy by acknowledging that he applied for the SES1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role in the Queensland District Registry and that he was selected for that SES Band 1 role and that the SES selection process which culminated in Mr Belcher being promoted to an SES Band 1 role was certified, on behalf of the Australian Public Service Commissioner, by the First Assistant Commissioner of the APSC as complying with the APS Employment Principles and the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2016.

The public interest assessment has not been conducted in good faith because Ms Hammerton Cole has deliberately failed to advert to the context in which the selection report came into existence, and has deliberately failed to engage with the fact that the Federal Court has, in the past, never had an issue with providing access to the selection reports of its SES officials. In the current instance, it is plainly the case that there is a public interest is being granted access to Mr Belcher's selection report because of the allegations relating to the way he was unlawfully denied career progression to the Senior Executive Service of the APS.

Similar comments are made in relation to Mr Schmidt's selection report.

For these reasons, Ms Hammerton Cole's decision should be reviewed in respect of paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) of her decision.

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,

remy

Dear External FOI,

A user on this website has drawn to my attention that Murray Belcher's selection report was published by Patrick Hetherington, the First Assistant Commissioner at the Australian Public Service Commission, on this website (see 'Document 2 Selection Report QLD National Judicial Registrar' at https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/s...). That is another reasons why Ms Hammerton Cole's decision to refuse access should be reviewed because it is clear from the document that has been published that the selection report is for the SES1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - QLD role. Also, the names of the members of the selection panel have been disclosed, along with their titles, so the public interest claim that Ms Hammerton Cole relied on to claim that it would be prejudicial to the privacy of certain individuals to have their names associated with the document is without merit.

Please draw this message to the person who will conduct the internal review.

Yours sincerely,

remy

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL
Dear Remy

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer

show quoted sections

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

3 Attachments

OFFICIAL
Dear Remy

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

Federal Court of Australia

 
 
  [1]Office of the Australian Information Reference Code:  
Commissioner ICR_10-49315926-2663
 

 
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Federal Court of Australia

1 Attachment

Our reference: MR22/00968

 

By email: [FOI #8542 email]

Receipt of your IC review application  

Thank you for your application for Information Commissioner Review (IC
review).

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is
considering your application.

If you wish to advise the OAIC of any changes to your circumstances,
including your contact details or if your FOI request has been resolved,
please write to [email address] and quote MR22/00968.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information Regulatory Group

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

 

 

 

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are remy please sign in and let everyone know.