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Documents relating to the recruitment of the Western Australia National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar

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Dear Federal Court of Australia,

I make this request for access to documents. 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 one person has held the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Western Australia Registry of the Federal Court: Russell Trott.

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 Trott applied to fill; and
b) the selection report produced by the person or persons who undertook the selection process that culminated in Mr Trott being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Western Australia Registry of the Court; and
c) all classification assessments for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar position in the Western Australia Registry of the Court from 1 January 2016 to the date of this request; and
d) any and all promotion notices published in the Public Service Gazette in relation to Mr Trott; and
e) any and all certifications issued by the representative of the Australian Public Service Commissioner for the selection process that culminated in Mr Trott being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Western Australia Registry of the Court.

In relation to the selection report requested under (b) 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 Trott). 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 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 Sir/Madam

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

1 Attachment

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 Western Australia 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 Trott applied to fill; and
b) the selection report produced by the person or persons who undertook the selection process that culminated in Mr Trott being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Western Australia Registry of the Court; and
c) all classification assessments for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar position in the Western Australia Registry of the Court from 1 January 2016 to the date of this request; and
d) any and all promotion notices published in the Public Service Gazette in relation to Mr Trott; and
e) any and all certifications issued by the representative of the Australian Public Service Commissioner for the selection process that culminated in Mr Trott being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Western Australia Registry of the Court.

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

PARAGRAPH C

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

I do not accept this.

It is clearly the case that the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role in the Western Australia 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).

How could it have been determined that the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role should have been classified at the SES1 classification if there is no classification assessment by reference to the work level standards published by the Australian Public Service Commissioner?

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?

PARAGRAPH D

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

It can be discerned from the annual reports of the Federal Court that Russell Trott had been a registrar of the Federal Court for more than three years prior to being selected by Ms Sia Lagos, Mr David Pringle and Ms Andrea Jarratt as the most meritorious candidate for the SES Band 1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role in the Western Australia Registrar of the Federal Court.

It would have been unlawful not to report Mr Trott’s promotion to the Senior Executive Service of the Australian Public Service because paragraph 34(1)(a) of the Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Direction 2016 (Cth) made it mandatory to record the promotion of an ongoing APS employee.

Mr Trott would have been an ongoing APS employee because he had served in the role of a registrar of the Court for more than 3 years according to the annual reports of the Federal Court.

PARAGRAPH B

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

Before criticising Ms Hammerton Cole for her reasons, I would like to thank her for confirming the following:

“In relation to the selection report requested in paragraph (b) of your FOI request, being the Selection Report – National Judicial Registrar R District Registrar, WA, I note that a redacted version of this report is available on the Right to Know website at the following link … I consider that, under section 22 of the FOI Act, upon redacting the exempt information in the selection report due to the conditional exemptions discussed above, there would not be any further information in the selection report that would be provided to you over the minimal information contained in the redacted version of the selection report available on the Right to Know website. I have therefore decided that it would be futile to provide you with a redacted copy of the selection report.”

The terms of paragraph (b) of my request were:

I request access to the selection report produced by the person or persons who undertook the selection process that culminated in Mr Trott being engaged in or promoted to the position of National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar in the Western Australia Registry of the Court.

Ms Hammerton Cole has confirmed that the document published on the Right to Know website is the selection report relating to the promotion of Russell Trott to an SES Band 1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role by Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt.

Thank you for confirming that.

In confirming what you have, your reasons for refusing to provide the selection report cannot be supported.

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 Russell Trott successfully secured the SES1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar role 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 report for Russell Trott, with Mr Trott’s name unredacted in the selection report? Ms Hammerton Cole has acknowledged that Mr Trott was the successful candidate, yet the published version of the selection report has Mr Trott’s name redacted. How can Ms Hammerton Cole claim that “under section 22 of the FOI Act, upon redacting the exempt information in the selection report due to the conditional exemptions discussed above, there would not be any further information in the selection report that would be provided to you over the minimal information contained in the redacted version of the selection report available on the Right to Know website” and that “it would be futile to provide you with a redacted copy of the selection report”. It would not be futile. The public would see that Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt chose Russell Trott for the SES Band 1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar – WA role. The public would also be able to match this fact with the fact that Russell Trott was not among the list of senior executive service employees working in the Federal Court that has been published on the disclosure log of the Federal Court (see PA2925-06/9 and the documents associated with that disclosure at https://www.fedcourt.gov.au/disclosurelog).

How is it that Mr Trott is not an SES Band official in the Federal Court of Australia Statutory Agency if he was selected for promotion to the senior executive service? It looks like Mr Trott was subjected to the same conspiracy that saw Mr Murray Belcher “demoted” so that the SES classification underpinning Mr Belcher’s role could unlawfully be “taken elsewhere in the organisation” (to quote Justice Greenwood, whose comments were published in an article in the Australian on 10 February 2022 – Top judge warned of registrar overhaul).

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

Take Mr Trott’s selection report as an example.

There is no prejudice to privacy Mr Trott’s privacy because it is clear that the selection report relates to him based on publicly available documentation and Ms Hammerton Cole’s concessions. 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 what she has.

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, 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, and has not adverted to the fact that, despite being selected to fill an SES Band 1 role, Mr Trott was never granted a senior executive band 1 classification and was, thus, denied lawful career progression, on the basis of his merits, to the senior executive service of the APS. 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.

As you say in your decision, the information in the selection report that was published on the directions of Patrick Hetherington, the First Assistant Commissioner of the APSC on the Right to Know website (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/s...) is "minimal". As you also say, "upon redacting the exempt information in the selection report due to the conditional exemptions discussed above, there would not be any further information in the selection report that would be provided to you over the minimal information contained in the redacted version of the selection report available on the Right to Know website", which means that you would, had Mr Hetherington not published that redacted version of the selection report for the SES Band 1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - WA role, have granted access to an identically redacted version of the selection report. I agree with your assessments in that regard, but for one minor but important detail. The version of the selection report published by Mr Hetherington has had Mr Trott's name, as the successful candidate, redacted from the report. Given that you have already confirmed that the document Mr Hetherington published is the selection report recording Mr Trott's success at securing the SES Band 1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - WA role, there would be no prejudice to Mr Trott, or to anybody else, for you to republish that selection report in a form identical to Mr Hetherington's published version, save for the facts that Mr Trott's name, and his status as the successful or preferred candidate, would not be redacted in the version you publish.

For these reasons, Ms Hammerton Cole's decision should be reviewed in its entirety and the selection report provided according to the terms of my original request.

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

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

OFFICIAL
Dear Remy

I acknowledge receipt of your request below for an internal review of the decision made by Registrar Hammerton Cole on behalf of the Federal Court of Australia and dated 11 May 2022.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

2 Attachments

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

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.