Documents relating to the request or arrangement for payment of grants and/or funding by the Commonwealth of Australia to Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited or Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd

Richard Smith made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Communications and the Arts

The request was refused by Department of Communications and the Arts.

From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear Department of Communications and the Arts,

I hereby request the following Government Information documents which I consider to be of great public importance:

a) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) to the Department of Communications and the Arts requesting the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited;

b) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) to the Department requesting the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd;

c) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) concerning the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited;

d) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) concerning the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd; and

e) Documents relating to the Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts's consideration and decision, including any directions to Department staff from the Minister of Communications and the Arts, within the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 to make a payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) to either Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited or Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd, including to the owners of the two respective companies.

For the avoidance of doubt, my request for Documents above also includes copies of any correspondence described in each of my requests a) through e).

If this can be answered as an 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

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


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For Official Use Only

Dear Mr Smith,

 

I refer to your email dated 10 August seeking access under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to documents held by the Department. 
Unfortunately, the scope of your request is unclear and does not satisfy
the requirements of section 15(2)(b) of the FOI Act as you have not
provided such information as is reasonably necessary to identify the
documents within scope.

 

For a request to be valid under section 15(2) of the FOI Act, it must:

 

(a)    be in writing, and state it is an application for the purposes of
the FOI Act;

(b)   provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably
necessary to enable the agency to identify it; and

(c)    give details of how notices and documents may be sent to the
applicant.

 

This means, that in order to process an FOI request, a responsible officer
should be able to look at the wording of your request, and then look at a
document, and be able to readily determine whether that document falls
within the scope (and is therefore subject to your request). As currently
framed, your request would require the Department to undertake an
overarching analysis of documents, potentially by reference to information
and documents that it may not hold and possibly requiring the creation of
new documents in order to identify documents within the scope of your
request.

 

Should you wish to proceed with an FOI request, you will need to provide
further information to clarify the scope of the request in order to
satisfy the requirements of section 15(2).  In particular, we would
require further information about:

 

(a)     what you mean by “documents detailing” any correspondence;

(b)   the identity of the “owners, agents and/or contractors” of Foxtel
Cable Television Pty Limited and Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd;

(c)    what you mean by “requesting the payment of moneys (either
compensation …)”;

(d)   what you mean by “documents relating to”… the consideration and
decision, including any directions to Department staff from the Minister…
to make a payment of moneys; and

(e)   “copies of any correspondence” described “in each of my requests a)
through e)”.

 

Please note that usually in these circumstances, we would contact you by
telephone to discuss the terms of your request, however as you have not
provided the Department with any telephone details, we have not been able
to do this.  As we may need to contact you to discuss processing of your
request, we also suggest that you provide us with your telephone number.

 

We further note that the Department has received another email from you
also dated 10 August directed to the Minister for Communications which is
the same request as that directed to the Department.  Please note that if
you wish to proceed with an FOI request directed to the Minister, you will
need to ensure that it complies with the above-mentioned requirements of
section 15(2) and send it to the email below:
[1][email address].

 

You should also note that in circumstances where the scope of a request
would capture documents in the possession of another agency; or the
subject matter of the request is more closely connected with the functions
of another agency, the agency to which a request has been made, may, with
the agreement of the other agency, transfer the request to the other
agency under section 16 of the FOI Act.  Section 24(2) of the FOI Act
permits an agency to treat two or more separate FOI requests as a single
request where the requests are for the same documents, or where the
subject matter is substantially the same. 

 

Should you require any further information, or would like to discuss your
request, please do not hesitate to contact me by return email or telephone
(02) 6271 1277.

 

Yours sincerely

 

[2]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

P +61 2 6271 1277

E [3][Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[4]communications.gov.au

[5]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [6]@CommsAu

 

[7]arts.gov.au

[8]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [9]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

 

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Link to this

From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear FOI Coordinator,

Thank you for your response of 21 August 2017 regarding my recent request for Government Information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

I note in your letter that the Department considers that my FOI request did not provide sufficient information for a responsible officer of the Department to identify the document(s) I am requesting be released.

I will address each part of my request in turn, with respect to the requirements of s15(2)(b) of the Act, below.

However, as a general comment regarding my request for Government Information I would draw the Department's attention to s17 of the Act.

Namely, s17 says that where:
"it appears from the request that the desire of the applicant is for information that is not available in discrete form in written documents of the agency; and

the agency could produce a written document containing the information in discrete form by:

(i) the use of a computer or other equipment that is ordinarily available to the agency for retrieving or collating stored information;

the agency shall deal with the request as if it were a request for access to a written document so produced and containing that information and, for that purpose, this Act applies as if the agency had such a document in its possession."

I will leave it up to you to determine whether or not s17 of the Act contemplates the very actions you have described in your letter to me:
“As currently framed, your request would require the Department to undertake an overarching analysis of documents, … and possibly requiring the creation of new documents in order to identify documents within the scope of your request.”

I will now respond to each of your questions where you require clarification in turn.

Department Question (a)

"(a) what you mean by “documents detailing” any correspondence;"

My request is very specific. This request specifically asks for a list of every piece of correspondence the Department of Communications and the Arts has received from Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited (“Foxtel”) or Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd (“Austar”) where either company has requested funding or grants from the Commonwealth.

I take the view that it is a reasonable assumption that the officer responsible for discharging the Freedom of Information function of the Department would be able to easily identify and collate the letters or emails received by the Department and then identify those that have been sent by or on behalf of Foxtel or Austar.

As I have previously indicated, s17 of the Act contemplates the Government Department producing such a list or “Document” from the Department’s records of correspondence received and releasing it to the public under FOI.

Department Question (b)

"(b) the identity of the “owners, agents and/or contractors” of Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited and Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd;"”

To clarify this point, I have included this in my request to ensure that it captures any correspondence sent to or received by any party acting on behalf of the two companies in question. This could include lawyers, or lobbyists as an example.

I take the view that it is a reasonable assumption that the Department is able to identify the sender of any correspondence it receives.

I also take the view that it is a reasonable assumption the Department of Communications and the Arts is able to identify who owns the two major Pay TV broadcasters in Australia.

Department Question (c)

"(c) what you mean by “requesting the payment of moneys (either compensation …)”;”

I'm not sure what more I can provide to elaborate on this point. This refers to any part of identified correspondence, if any, from either company to the Department where the payment of money to either company (Foxtel or Austar) by the Commonwealth is discussed, suggested, or requested.

Department Question (d)

(d) what you mean by “documents relating to”… the consideration and decision, including any directions to Department staff from the Minister… to make a payment of moneys;”

To clarify, I am referring to any document(s) where the Department’s executive decision making organ, for example any body that includes the Secretary of the Department in its members and what is commonly referred to as the “Senior Management Team” or “Executive Leadership Team”, discussed making a payment to either Foxtel or Austar.

These documents would usually take the form of meeting minutes where the issue is discussed, and considered. It could also be a discussion paper or briefing note/minute where the issue is described and a recommendation is made. It could also include the document(s) showing when the Department’s executive decision making organ made the decision.

Again this would normally be expected to be meeting minutes where the result of the decision is described and the resulting actions are listed such as drafting a letter to either Foxtel or Austar to inform them that they will be the recipient of money from the Commonwealth.

I believe it is a reasonable assumption that the officer responsible for discharging the Freedom of Information function of the Department would be able to identify the minutes or briefing paper relating to the departmental decision making in which the Department decides to pay or is directed to pay money to a private company.

Department Question (e)

(e) “copies of any correspondence” described “in each of my requests a) through e)”.

As my requests a) through d) are for lists of correspondence as described, this is a request for a copy of each piece of correspondence, if any, identified in each of my requests a) through d).

I hope that this provides sufficient clarification to allow the Department to commence processing my request for Government Information.

If not, I am happy to work with the Department in order to assist it to fulfil my request, subject to the requirements of s24AB(3) and s24AB(4)(b) of the Act.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Smith

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


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For Official Use Only

FOI 17-1718

 

Dear Mr Smith

 

I refer to your email dated 21 August 2017 confirming a request dated 10
August for access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to:
 

 

“…a) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period
between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Foxtel Cable Television Pty
Limited (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) to the
Department of Communications and the Arts requesting the payment of moneys
(either compensation or grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Foxtel
Cable Television Pty Limited;

 

b) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period
between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd
(including its owners, agents and/or contractors) to the Department
requesting the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or
funding) by the Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd;

 

c) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1
Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Foxtel Cable Television
Pty Limited (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) concerning
the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the
Commonwealth to Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited;

 

d) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1
Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Austar Entertainment
Pty Ltd (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) concerning the
payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the
Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd; and

 

e) Documents relating to the Commonwealth Department of Communications and
the Arts's consideration and decision, including any directions to
Department staff from the Minister of Communications and the Arts, within
the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 to make a payment of
moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) to either Foxtel Cable
Television Pty Limited or Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd, including to the
owners of the two respective companies.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, my request for Documents above also includes
copies of any correspondence described in each of my requests a) through
e)…”

 

Timeframe for receiving your decision:

Please note that we will process your request in accordance with the
Department’s [1]FOI Policy and that the 30 day statutory period for
processing the request commenced on 22 August.  You should therefore
expect a decision from us by 20 September 2017.  The period of 30 days may
be extended in certain circumstances.  We will advise you if there is any
extension of time.

 

Scope of request:

If it emerges that the scope of the request is unclear or is too large for
processing, the Department will contact you to discuss re-scoping the
request.

 

Charges:

Please note that it is the Department’s policy to issue charges for
processing FOI requests and that we will advise you of the estimated
charges when we are in a position to estimate the resources required to
process the request. 

 

Timing of release:

As the subject matter of the request will require the Department to upload
any documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, I
take this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to
upload documents to the disclosure log on the same day as or as soon as
practicable after the documents are released.  More information on the
Department’s disclosure log is available in the FOI Policy.

 

Personal Information:

Your personal information has been collected by the Department as a result
of your correspondence, and will be used in order to process the FOI
request. Personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy
Act 1988. The Department’s [2]Privacy Policy is available on the website
and contains information about access to or correction of your personal
information, and how you may complain about a breach of your privacy.

 

Please note that if we need to consult with other people regarding release
of the requested documents, we may need to disclose your personal
information. When we consult with other people about the request, it may
be apparent to those people that you have made a request, even if we do
not disclose your identity. If you have concerns about the Department
consulting with other people about the request, please let us know about
these concerns.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

[3]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

P +61 2 6271 1277

E [Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[4]communications.gov.au

[5]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [6]@CommsAu

 

[7]arts.gov.au

[8]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [9]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

show quoted sections

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:

[13][FOI #4016 email]

 

This request has been made by an individual using Right to Know. This
message and any reply that you make will be published on the internet.
More information on how Right to Know works can be found at:

[14]https://www.righttoknow.org.au/help/offi...

 

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended
recipient(s)
and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized
review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the
intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy
all
copies of the original message.

This message has been content scanned by the Axway MailGate.

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Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


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Attachment FOI 17 1718 24AB Notice.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Mr Smith

 

Please see attached correspondence regarding your FOI Request (reference
17-1718).

 

[1]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

E [Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[2]communications.gov.au

[3]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [4]@CommsAu

 

[5]arts.gov.au

[6]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [7]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

 

 

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References

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4. https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en
5. http://arts.gov.au/
7. https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en

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From: Carl English


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Our reference: RQ17/01754

Mr Richard Smith

By email: [FOI #4016 email]

Dear Mr Smith

Extension of time under s 15AC

On 20 September 2017, the Department of Communications and the Arts (the
Department) applied for further time to make a decision on your FOI
request of 21 August 2017.

Section 15AC of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the FOI Act)
allows the Information Commissioner to extend the processing time for an
FOI request where the initial decision period has ended and the agency or
Minister has not provided the applicant with notice of a decision. The
Department has advised this office they have not made a decision in the
statutory time period. The FOI Act deems that your request has been
refused (deemed refusal).

As a delegate of the Information Commissioner, I am authorised to make
decisions on applications for extensions of time under s 15AC(5) of the
FOI Act. I have decided to grant the Department an extension of time to 20
October 2017, to process your request.

This extension of time under s 15AC of the FOI Act will mean that the
deemed refusal is taken never to have applied if the Department makes a
decision on your request by 20 October 2017.

Such an extension of time can only be granted once and cannot be extended
by a variation. This extension of time under s 15AC of the FOI Act means
the Department cannot reimpose a charge.

If you would like to discuss this matter I can be contacted on 02 9284
9745 or email [email address]. Please quote the reference number
RQ17/01754.

Yours sincerely

Carl English | Assistant Review and Investigation Officer | Freedom of
Information Dispute Resolution

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 SYDNEY NSW 2001| [1]www.oaic.gov.au

Phone:  +61 2 9284 9745 | E-mail: [email address]

 

[2]Right to Know Day email signature

 

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From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear Mr English,

RE: RQ17/01754

Thank you for your email of 21 September.

I must admit to being perplexed to receive your email.

My last correspondence from the Department of Communications and the Arts on 20 September 2017, regarding my request for information (Department FOI reference 17-1718) was to inform me of the decision maker's intention to refuse my FOI request as per s24AA(1).

The letter invited me to clarify my request by consultation with the Department as per s24AB(2)(e) by 4 October.

For the record I disagree with the decision maker's reasoning in this email and I will be providing my reasons in due course.

The letter from the Department does not request an extension of time nor does it allude to the fact that the Department is undertaking any further action in relation to my FOI request.

It is in this context that I have received your email of 21 September affording the Department an extension to the 20 October 2017.

As you have indicated that the Department has requested and now been granted an extension by you to 20 October, I am unsure as to the status of the 4 October deadline for my request to be amended.

Should I wait to hear from the Department by the 20 October and take that fact that they have requested an extension of time through the Information Commissioner to mean that they have accepted my request as originally made is suitable for processing without amendment? This would contradict the Department's letter of 20 September to me advising of the intention to refuse my FOI request.

Or should I amend my request to clarify the scope of my request and send it to the Department by 4 October as requested by the Department in their letter of 20 September?

I look forward to hearing your advice on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Smith

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From: Carl English


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Dear Mr Smith
Thank you for your email.
The Department was unable to make a decision within the statutory time
frame. The FOI Act therefore deems the Department to have refused your FOI
request. The effect of the extension of time I granted is that the deemed
refusal is taken never to have applied if the Department makes a decision
on your request by 20 October 2017.
This gives the Department the opportunity to continue to work with you to
process your request and to make a valid decision. It also preserves your
right to seek internal review of the decision the Department is required
to make by 20 October 2017, if you disagree with the decision.
However you should respond to the Department's letter of 20 September
2017, even if it is only to advise that you do not agree to revise your
request. The Department may treat your request as withdrawn if you do not
respond.
Please free to call me on 02 9284 9745 if you have any questions about
this email.
Kind regards
Carl English | Assistant Review and Investigation Officer | Freedom of
Information Dispute Resolution
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
GPO Box 5218 SYDNEY NSW 2001| [1]www.oaic.gov.au
Phone:  +61 2 9284 9745 | E-mail: [email address]
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear Legal Director,

RE: FOI 17-1718

Thank you for your letter of 20 September 2017.

I have considered the reasons outlined in your intention to refuse my request for Government Information.

I do not agree with your reasoning and I will address why in due course.

However, in the form of an executive summary, I believe the Department is claiming that it is too onerous to find any letters that it has sent to Foxtel and Austar and vise versa. I find it difficult to accept that the Department isn’t able to quickly search through its correspondence for a 2 and half year period to quickly identify correspondence it has had with the country’s major pay TV operators.

Of those letters, of which there can’t be more than 10 a year, I also do not accept that a responsible officer could not clearly identify if there exists in the body of each letter or email a request for funding as I have requested.

A more detailed discussion of the issues follows.

1. Practical Refusal reason exists, as per s24AA(1)

(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).

I refer to paragraph 5 of your letter.

Section 15(2)(b) of the Act states that
“(2) The request must:
(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”

My request clearly satisfies this requirement. I have provided sufficient information that is reasonably necessary to identify it.

To spell it out, the subject of my request is a subset of all correspondence the Department has conducted with each of two parties, namely Foxtel and Austar in a specific time period.

This is obviously sufficient for a responsible officer of the Department to identify from all correspondence send by or received from the Department.

I take the view that it is a reasonable assumption that the officer responsible for discharging the Freedom of Information function of the Department would be able to easily identify the addressees or senders of official communications to and from the Department.

The antithesis of this situation would be to suggest that Departmental correspondence is not filed to allow sorting by the party with whom the Department is corresponding. I do not think it is reasonable to assume this state of affairs exists.

Considering this illustrates above that all parts of my request, as they were made and without modification, are for specific Government Information that it can be reasonably assumed can be readily identified, I am of the opinion that a practical refusal reason does not exist under s24AA(1) of the Act.

2. Not correctly applying s17 of the Act to my request

I refer to paragraph 9 of your letter. Your assertion that the “FOI Act do not give rise to the creation of new documents”.

I contend that the Department has acted in a way that has caused it to err in not applying s17 of the Act to my request for Government Information.

Namely where
"it appears from the request that the desire of the applicant is for information that is not available in discrete form in written documents of the agency; and
the agency could produce a written document containing the information in discrete form by:
(i) the use of a computer or other equipment that is ordinarily available to the agency for retrieving or collating stored information;
the agency shall deal with the request as if it were a request for access to a written document so produced and containing that information and, for that purpose, this Act applies as if the agency had such a document in its possession."

I contend that the Government Information that is subject to my request does take the form of information as contemplated by s17.

This could be a summary of pieces of correspondence and the date they were send or received, or confirmation of the absence of any letters satisfying this criteria.

In not complying with s17 of the Act and instead just denying my request, the Department has erred in its obligations under the Act.

3. Revision of request

Notwithstanding the above, and without any guidance from the Department as to a revision of the scope of my request that would be more feasible to process, I will provide the Department with some parameters that may assist it in considering my reply.

a) For each of my requests a) through e) I would be amenable to removing the part of the request that includes “including its owners, agents and/or contractors”. This would allow the Department’s search of its correspondence to be limited to just the two corporate bodies, i.e. Foxtel and Austar.

b) For my request e) I would be amenable to removing the part of the request that includes “including to the owners of the two respective companies”.

Please do not hesitate to contact me further if you require any clarification of the points I have raised.

I look forward to hearing from the Department.

Yours faithfully,
Richard Smith

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


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UNCLASSIFIED

FOI 17-1718

 

Dear Mr Smith

 

Thank you for your email below indicating that you wish to revise the
scope of your FOI Request for access to:

 

“…a) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period
between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Foxtel Cable Television Pty
Limited (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) to the
Department of Communications and the Arts requesting the payment of moneys
(either compensation or grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Foxtel
Cable Television Pty Limited;

 

b) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period
between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd
(including its owners, agents and/or contractors) to the Department
requesting the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or
funding) by the Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd;

 

c) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1
Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Foxtel Cable Television
Pty Limited (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) concerning
the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the
Commonwealth to Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited;

 

d) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1
Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Austar Entertainment
Pty Ltd (including its owners, agents and/or contractors) concerning the
payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the
Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd; and

 

e) Documents relating to the Commonwealth Department of Communications and
the Arts's consideration and decision, including any directions to
Department staff from the Minister of Communications and the Arts, within
the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 to make a payment of
moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) to either Foxtel Cable
Television Pty Limited or Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd, including to the
owners of the two respective companies.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, my request for Documents above also includes
copies of any correspondence described in each of my requests a) through
e)…”

 

The Department is undertaking searches for documents within the scope of
your request as amended and you should expect to receive a response by 3
November 2017.

 

In addition, please note that we have assumed that the scope of your
request above is not intended to include documents relating to the payment
of Departmental accounts, for example documents such as invoices or
remittance advices for television subscription services.  If this is not
correct, please let us know.

 

Best regards,

 

 

[1]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

P +61 2 6271 1277

E [Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[2]communications.gov.au

[3]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [4]@CommsAu

 

[5]arts.gov.au

[6]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [7]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

show quoted sections

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:

[15][FOI #4016 email]

 

This request has been made by an individual using Right to Know. This
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More information on how Right to Know works can be found at:

[16]https://www.righttoknow.org.au/help/offi...

 

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Link to this

From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear FOI Coordinator,

Thank you for your email of 5 October.

I confirm that neither my original nor amended request intended to include in its scope any documents relating to the invoicing or payment of accounts by the Department for any services provided to the Department where the Department is a customer of either of the two pay TV companies.

My request for Government Information was specifically directed at payment of grants and / or funding intended to be used by either pay TV operator for their commercial activities and for which there was no commercially based customer / supplier agreement in place.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Smith

Link to this

From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear Mr English,

Thank you for your letter of 29 September.

Following on from your advice, I have corresponded with the Department by their suggested deadline of 4 October to consult on the scope of my original FOI request of 10 August (Department reference 17-1718) and provide some guidance on possible amendment to the scope.

The Department has subsequently replied today, the 5 October, and has amended the scope of my request and has now informed me to expect a reply by a new deadline of 3rd November 2017.

This new deadline of the 3rd November appears to be on top of the extension of time until 20 October that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner granted to the Department as you have advised me in your letter of 21 September (OAIC reference: RQ17/01754).

I write to you now, however, as you had said in your letter of 21 September that "This extension of time ... by 20 October 2017. Such an extension of time can only be granted once and cannot be extended by a variation."

I welcome the Department's change from an intention to refuse my FOI request to today indicating that they were now processing my request and I would have a response by 3 November.

I note that the "amended" scope they have outlined in their letter of today appears to be identical word for word to the scope in my original request.

Also they have not mentioned the extension to 20 October granted to them by the OAIC in any correspondence with me.

I do not wish to throw sand into the "well oiled" gears of the Department's processing of my FOI request, however their responses appear to contradict your guidance.

I would appreciate it if you could advise as to the situation. Is the deadline still 20 October or does the Department's further amended date of 3 November now become the new deadline?

Yours sincerely,

Richard Smith

Link to this

From: Carl English

Thank you for your email, I am out of the office until Monday 23 October
2017.

 

Please forward all FOI matters to [email address]

If your request is urgent please contact Ms Raewyn Harlock on 02 9284 9802
email [email address]

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


Attachment image001.png
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UNCLASSIFIED

FOI 17-1718

 

Dear Mr Smith

 

Thank you for your email below confirming that the reference to
“compensation” at items (a) to (e) of your FOI Request is not intended to
capture documents relating to the payment of Departmental accounts.

 

I note that the version of my email sent to you yesterday and attached to
your response below is not the same version of the document that I sent to
you. The email that I sent to you included strikethrough text indicating
the deletion of the text “(including its owners, agents and/or
contractors)” from the scope of items (a) to (d) of your original request;
and the deletion of the text “, including to the owners of the two
respective companies” from item (e) of your original request. 

 

This may be a consequence of differences in software or some other
technical issue and therefore for the sake of clarity, I confirm that the
Department is currently processing your FOI Request (as revised) for
access to:

 

“…a) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period
between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Foxtel Cable Television Pty
Limited to the Department of Communications and the Arts requesting the
payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the
Commonwealth to Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited;

 

b) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period
between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd to
the Department requesting the payment of moneys (either compensation or
grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd;

 

c) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1
Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Foxtel Cable Television
Pty Limited concerning the payment of moneys (either compensation or
grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Foxtel Cable Television Pty
Limited;

 

d) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1
Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Austar Entertainment
Pty Ltd concerning the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or
funding) by the Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd; and

 

e) Documents relating to the Commonwealth Department of Communications and
the Arts's consideration and decision, including any directions to
Department staff from the Minister of Communications and the Arts, within
the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 to make a payment of
moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) to either Foxtel Cable
Television Pty Limited or Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, my request for Documents above also includes
copies of any correspondence described in each of my requests a) through
e)…”

 

I also confirm, in accordance with the extension allowed by the
Information Commissioner under section 15AC and subsection 24AB(8) of the
FOI Act, that processing of your request (as revised by your email dated 4
October) is taken to have recommenced on 5 October and therefore you
should expect a decision from us by Friday, 3 November 2017.  

 

Yours sincerely

 

[1]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

P +61 2 6271 1277

E [Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[2]communications.gov.au

[3]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [4]@CommsAu

 

[5]arts.gov.au

[6]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [7]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

 

 

show quoted sections

 

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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References

 

Visible links

2. [12]https://www.communications.gov.au/

4. [13]https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en

5. [14]http://arts.gov.au/

7. [15]https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en

8. [16]file:///tmp/cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

9. [17]file:///tmp/cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A

10. [18]file:///tmp/cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A

11. [19]https://www.communications.gov.au/

12. [20]https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en

13. [21]http://arts.gov.au/

14. [22]https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en

15. [23]mailto:[FOI #4016 email]

16. [24]https://www.righttoknow.org.au/help/offi...

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

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manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

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9. file:///tmp/cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A
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12. https://www.communications.gov.au/
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14. http://arts.gov.au/
15. https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en
16. file:///\\tmp\cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7
17. file:///\\tmp\cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A
18. file:///\\tmp\cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A
19. https://www.communications.gov.au/
20. https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en
21. http://arts.gov.au/
22. https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en
23. mailto:[foi
24. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/help/offi...
25. mailto:[FOI #4016 email]
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Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


Attachment image001.png
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Smith

 

Please accept my apologies, however, we have incorrectly advised you that
the access decision date for your request (as revised by your email dated
4 October) is Friday, 3 November. 

 

The extension allowed by the Office of the Information Commissioner under
section 15AC of the FOI Act requires that the Department notify you of a
decision about your request by Friday, 20 October 2017.

 

However, we ask that you note that in the event that the Department is
required to consult with third-parties about documents falling within the
scope of your request, this timeframe may be extended.  We will advise you
if there is any extension of time.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

[1]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

P +61 2 6271 1277

E [Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[2]communications.gov.au

[3]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [4]@CommsAu

 

[5]arts.gov.au

[6]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [7]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

 

 

From: FOI
Sent: Friday, 6 October 2017 10:07 AM
To: Richard Smith <[FOI #4016 email]>
Subject: RE: FOI 17-1718 Acknowledgement of revised request
[SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

 

UNCLASSIFIED

FOI 17-1718

 

Dear Mr Smith

 

Thank you for your email below confirming that the reference to
“compensation” at items (a) to (e) of your FOI Request is not intended to
capture documents relating to the payment of Departmental accounts.

 

I note that the version of my email sent to you yesterday and attached to
your response below is not the same version of the document that I sent to
you. The email that I sent to you included strikethrough text indicating
the deletion of the text “(including its owners, agents and/or
contractors)” from the scope of items (a) to (d) of your original request;
and the deletion of the text “, including to the owners of the two
respective companies” from item (e) of your original request. 

 

This may be a consequence of differences in software or some other
technical issue and therefore for the sake of clarity, I confirm that the
Department is currently processing your FOI Request (as revised) for
access to:

 

“…a) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period
between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Foxtel Cable Television Pty
Limited to the Department of Communications and the Arts requesting the
payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) by the
Commonwealth to Foxtel Cable Television Pty Limited;

 

b) Documents detailing any correspondence received within the period
between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd to
the Department requesting the payment of moneys (either compensation or
grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd;

 

c) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1
Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Foxtel Cable Television
Pty Limited concerning the payment of moneys (either compensation or
grants or funding) by the Commonwealth to Foxtel Cable Television Pty
Limited;

 

d) Documents detailing any correspondence sent within the period between 1
Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 from the Department to Austar Entertainment
Pty Ltd concerning the payment of moneys (either compensation or grants or
funding) by the Commonwealth to Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd; and

 

e) Documents relating to the Commonwealth Department of Communications and
the Arts's consideration and decision, including any directions to
Department staff from the Minister of Communications and the Arts, within
the period between 1 Jan 2015 and 10 August 2017 to make a payment of
moneys (either compensation or grants or funding) to either Foxtel Cable
Television Pty Limited or Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, my request for Documents above also includes
copies of any correspondence described in each of my requests a) through
e)…”

 

I also confirm, in accordance with the extension allowed by the
Information Commissioner under section 15AC and subsection 24AB(8) of the
FOI Act, that processing of your request (as revised by your email dated 4
October) is taken to have recommenced on 5 October and therefore you
should expect a decision from us by Friday, 3 November 2017.  

 

Yours sincerely

 

[8]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

P +61 2 6271 1277

E [9][Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[10]communications.gov.au

[11]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [12]@CommsAu

 

[13]arts.gov.au

[14]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [15]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

 

 

show quoted sections

 

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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2. [22]https://www.communications.gov.au/

4. [23]https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en

5. [24]http://arts.gov.au/

7. [25]https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en

8. [26]file:///tmp/cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

9. [27]file:///tmp/cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A

10. [28]file:///tmp/cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A

11. [29]https://www.communications.gov.au/

12. [30]https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en

13. [31]http://arts.gov.au/

14. [32]https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en

15. [33]mailto:[FOI #4016 email]

16. [34]https://www.righttoknow.org.au/help/offi...

 

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-------------------------------------------------------------------

 

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7. https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en
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10. https://www.communications.gov.au/
12. https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en
13. http://arts.gov.au/
15. https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en
16. mailto:[FOI #4016 email]
17. mailto:[email address]
18. file:///tmp/cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7
19. file:///tmp/cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A
20. file:///tmp/cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A
21. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/help/offi...
22. https://www.communications.gov.au/
23. https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en
24. http://arts.gov.au/
25. https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en
26. file:///\\tmp\cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7
27. file:///\\tmp\cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A
28. file:///\\tmp\cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A
29. https://www.communications.gov.au/
30. https://twitter.com/CommsAu?lang=en
31. http://arts.gov.au/
32. https://twitter.com/artsculturegov?lang=en
33. mailto:[foi
34. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/help/offi...
35. mailto:[FOI #4016 email]
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Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Communications and the Arts


Attachment image001.png
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Attachment FOI 17 1718 Access Decision.pdf
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Attachment foi factsheet 12 your review rights July2012.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Mr Smith

 

Please see attached correspondence in relation to your FOI Request
(reference 17-1718).

 

Yours sincerely

 

[1]cid:C4234CC5-D32A-44FF-A754-F96227B373F7

 

FOI Coordinator  / Information Law Section  /  Office of the General
Counsel

Department of Communications and the Arts

P +61 2 6271 1277

E [Department of Communications and the Arts request email]

 

GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

  

[2]communications.gov.au

[3]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [4]@CommsAu

 

[5]arts.gov.au

[6]cid:17F0759F-5B67-41BB-B991-66700A2CA00A [7]@artsculturegov

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential information or
legal advice over which legal professional privilege can be claimed.  Such
privilege is not waived and you should ensure that, in the handling of the
advice, you avoid waiving privilege.  Please consult the author of the
advice if unsure about appropriate handling.

 

 

show quoted sections

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Link to this

From: Richard Smith

Delivered

Dear Legal Director,

RE: FOI 17-1718

Thank you for your correspondence of 20 October in which the Department has detailed their Decision in relation to my FOI request 17-1718.

I would like to pass on my thanks for the detailed description of the works undertaken to search for material relevant to my FOI request.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Smith

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Communications and the Arts only: