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Employment documents relating to Linda Potter

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Dear Federal Court of Australia,

An article was published in the legal affairs journal Justinian on 11 August 2017. The title of the article is “Federal Courts Exodus”.

The article reads accordingly:

“THERE has been an exodus of Federal Court staff in the wake of the back office shake-up engineered by the new HR Tsar, Darrin Moy, i.e. the ‘executive director of people, culture and communications’.

Moy came on board at the court in May 2016 and since then there's been quite of bit of mov'n 'n shak'n.

The new "culture" man hailed from a job at Sydney Ferries and before that at the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust. His task at the court is to "harmonise" the backend fusion of the Federal Court, the Family Court, the Federal Circus Court and the National Native Title Tribunal.

The upshot is that HR staff have either rushed for the door, taken redundancy or have not seen their contracts renewed.

In many some instances the departed have replaced by colleagues that Darrin and his colleague Catherine Sullivan have brought in from Sydney Ferries or the Harbour Trust. Sullivan is the courts executive director of corporate services and also came from the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Initially Darrin was on a 12 months contract that was not subject to an advertised selection exercise and engaged on a salary package above the normal band. He applied for the new permanent position as head of "people, culture and communications" but his appointment has not yet been announced.

The job carried a base salary of $200,000 plus 15.4 percent superannuation. He was engaged at this rate when he came on last year, pending the application for the permanent position. The job is classified as Federal Court manager, level 2 nonlegal. The maximum in the pay table for that classification is $129,018.

Departures from the Federal Court HR team include:

• The courts assistant HR director, a permanent employee who resigned in May 2017;

• Two senior HR advisors, both permanent employees. One resigned in June 2016 and the other was made redundant in November 2016 while on sick leave;

• A learning and development officer, a permanent employee, was made redundant in March 2017. She was told after returning from maternity leave that her request for part-time work had not been approved;

• An HR assistant on contract, resigned in September 2016; and

• An HR systems administrator was not renewed after her term ended.

Departures from the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court HR team include:

• The HR director, a permanent employee based in Canberra. She was made redundant after being advised that she needs to be in Sydney;

• The workforce & policy manager, a permanent employee who resigned when the courts' functions merged;

• The workplace relations specialist, a contract employee whose term ended;

• The learning and development officer, a permanent employee who resigned in July 2017;

• The HR systems manager, a permanent employee who was made redundant in March 2017 but continues working as a contractor;

• The payroll & judicial services manager, a permanent employee, made redundant in February 2017 during sick leave absence;

• Three payroll advisers, one a permanent employee and two contractors.

So far staffing numbers in other teams at the courts' corporate services - communications, finance, IT, property and facilities - have been less seriously affected by the backend changes. One source says the turnover in these areas has been less than 10 percent.

Members of the new hand-picked broom include:

• Kathryn Hunter, replaces the previous CFO Peter Bowen, who was forced to accept a redundancy under threats of performance management. She came from Sydney Ferries and has been engaged at a manager level 2 classification.

• Melanie Liu, finance executive officer, manager level 1. She came from the Cancer Council where Catherine Sullivan also previously worked.

• Larissa Minniecon, HR cultural officer. She previously previously worked to Darrin as HR assistant at Sydney Ferries. She was placed on a 12 months contract directly.

• Robyn Richards, senior project officer. She previously worked as the executive assistant at Sydney Ferries. Robyn was given a six months contract directly, but resigned after four months in late 2016.

• Debbie Price, assistant HR director. She previously worked to Darrin as HR adviser at Sydney Ferries and was given a 12 months contract directly at the court on a base salary above the normal pay band.

• Linda Potter, assistant HR director. She is married to Wayne Potter, general manager at Sydney ferries and is on a 12 months contract with the court having been engaged directly on a salary package above the normal band.

Many of these people who have been brought in on individual flexible agreements with generous conditions, while the courts' staff, including registrars and registry officers are still fighting for a pay increase.

For instance, the top of the range found among the new recruits is a manager level 2 on a base salary of $180,000. A number are on manager level one with base salaries between $120,000 and $130,000.

There are 10 highly paid non-executive staff, drawing down a total of $1.7 million in pay.

These salaries are being paid while the rest of the courts' 1,200 staff haven't had a pay rise since 2013, not one cent.

For the Federal, Family and Circuit courts are now a total of 18 highly-paid executives drawing an averaged total of over $2 million a year in salaries.

There are a further 10 highly paid non-executive staff with a total annual averaged pay of $1.7 million a year.

The Canberra Times reported that 90 percent of Federal Court staff voted to reject a proposed new enterprise agreement which was at half the wage rise offered to public servants in other Commonwealth departments.

There were asked to accept an offer that averaged one percent for each of the agreement's three years.

The agreement also proposed cuts to conditions and entitlements and, for some, longer working weeks.

Other departments such as Defence, the ATO, Agriculture, the CSIRO and PM & C all accepted two percent increases for each of three years.

There was a courts' staff turnout of 81 percent for the vote.

Now, six weeks later, Moy has come back to the table with nothing other than more of his hard-line attitude.

Management has threatened, during recent negotiations, that it has the option to terminate the existing enterprise agreements.

This would mean that every single clause would need to be negotiated back into the “new” agreement. Maybe it's another stalling ploy. No other government agency has ever made such a threat, even after four years of difficult negotiations.

The majority of government agencies has now managed to negotiate outcomes acceptable to staff and much better than what is currently on offer at the Federal, Family and Federal Circuit courts. And yes, staff morale is at an all-time low.

All a bit awkward when the Federal Court's jurisdiction extends to industrial law.

Last year, Justinian reported that Darrin in his enterprise bargaining update to staff had plagiarised part of an article in the Qantas magazine written by the airline's CEO Alan Joyce.”

Under the FOI Act, I request access to:

a) the written document giving effect to the contract of employment between the Commonwealth and Linda Potter, the wife of Wayne Potter, the general manager at Sydney Ferries; and
b) the independent flexibility arrangement Linda Potter signed.

Yours faithfully,


External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

1 Attachment

Dear Christine

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Officer,

I am contesting the proposed charges you have listed in your letter.

You claim that search and retrieval of the documents took, or will take, 20 minutes. I do not think that to be the case. I have been very specific with my request and all of the documents requested would reasonably be expected to be located in a single location – Linda Potter’s APS employee file. That expectation is based on the core activities associated with personnel management, which includes “managing recruitment of personnel to the Australian Public Service (APS), including ongoing, non-ongoing and SES employees, and employment scheme participants such as those working under scholarships, fellowships, traineeships, apprenticeships and similar relationships. Includes applying for approval to fill vacancies, advertising vacant positions, and the handling of applications, interviews, selection and appointment”. Such documents would reasonably be expected to be kept in an APS employee file or something similar. It should not take 20 minutes to find the documents requested. I think six minutes would be more than adequate time. The cost of searching should be about $1.50.

According to the FOI Guidelines:

An agency should ensure that the notice to an applicant of a charge fully explains and justifies the charge. Implicit in the ‘lowest reasonable cost’ objective is the requirement for sound record keeping so that an agency’s documents can be readily identified and found when an FOI request is received.

According to the FOI Guidelines:

Agencies and ministers should interpret the ‘lowest reasonable cost’ objective broadly in imposing any charge under the FOI Act. That is, an agency or minister should have regard to the lowest reasonable cost to the applicant, to the agency or minister, and the Commonwealth as a whole. Where the cost of calculating and collecting a charge might exceed the cost to the agency of processing the request, it may generally be more appropriate not to impose a charge.

Let it be conservatively assumed that the FOI Officer who prepared the charge estimate letter and the invoice is paid $40 per hour (including superannuation and leave entitlements). Let it be very generously assumed that it took the FOI Officer 10 minutes to:

a) calculate the charges to be requested;
b) prepare the charge estimate letter; and
d) dispatch the documents by email.

It would have cost the Commonwealth $6.67 for the FOI Officer to do that.

The cost of calculating and collecting the charge exceeds the reasonable cost to the agency of searching for the documents.

Accordingly, the proposed search charge is inappropriate.

I requested the following documents:

a) the written document giving effect to the contract of employment between the Commonwealth and Linda Potter, the wife of Wayne Potter, the general manager at Sydney Ferries; and
b) the independent flexibility arrangement Linda Potter signed.

You claim that it will take an estimated 6 hours to examine the documents, consult about the documents, make a decision and prepare a response. There is no way that, by any objective measure, the time and cost estimate for the consideration of the FOI request could be justified. This is a very simple request for two documents that have been identified with particularity.

It would take more than 5 hours for a competent and reasonably efficient public servant to process this FOI request. The proposed charge for the processing of the FOI request is unjustified.

There is also a broad public interest in determining if Linda Potter, the wife of Wayne Potter, the CEO of Sydney Ferries, the Agency from which Darrin Moy came to the Federal Court of Australia under dubious circumstances, was given a jammy job, without the job being notified to the Australian community, with a salary package above the normal pay band. If the allegations are true, then Linda Potter would be the beneficiary of someone's patronage in the Australian Public Service. Patronage in the Australian Public Service is against the law. The Australian community deserves to know if members of the management of the Federal Court have broken the law and have handed out “jobs to mates”.

Yours sincerely,


Federal Court of Australia

2 Attachments

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External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

Dear Christine

I acknowledge receipt of your email below contesting the charges as advised by letter from the Federal Court of Australia dated 11 November 2022 in relation to your FOI request of 28 October 2022.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

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