Enterprise Agreement ballots - were employees informed of what data about them was used in the ballot?

James Smith made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Taxation Office as part of a batch sent to 6 authorities

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Australian Taxation Office,

Through a previous FOI request, you have indicated the department has used certain information relating to your employees to conduct your enterprise agreement ballots for at least one enterprise agreement proposed under either the governments current bargaining policy or the one before it.

In one or more of your ballots, I have determined you passed on information about your employees that goes beyond the minimum required in order to conduct the ballots.

This may include information such as classification level, branch within the department, employment type, etc.

I would like to determine to what extent the department explained to employees what information about them was required for ballots, and what information about them was used in ballots.

I would also like to understand the rationale of the department in using employee information to profile employees' votes (in a breakdown of results), and I would like to know who authorised the decision to use such data.

I therefore request:

1. All documents sent to all employees which explain what information about them was passed onto the ballot provider for each ballot.

2. Any documents sent to the relevant decision maker(s) who approved the use of the data that was used in the ballots.

3. Any documents which explain the rational for obtaining breakdowns of votes

4. Any documents which mention benefits to the department or to the bargaining process in obtaining a breakdown of votes.

5. Any documents between the departmental bargaining team and the departmental Executive which discuss breakdowns of votes and suggest how that information should be used or otherwise taken into consideration by the department.

6. Any documents from the APSC that mention what information about employees can or should be used in ballots.

Yours faithfully,

James Smith

FOI, Australian Taxation Office

Dear Mr Smith,
The ATO does not process FOI requests received via righttoknow.org.au.
Please send your FOI request direct to [1][ATO request email], or lodge via
paper form available at
Alternatively, you can contact the ATO on 13 28 69 and ask for Freedom of
FOI team

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Ben Fairless left an annotation ()

The Information Commissioner has made a formal recommendation to the ATO to start processing to Freedom of Information requests made via Right to Know. More Information on this can be found here: https://www.openaustraliafoundation.org....

Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

My comment is an addition to the comments by Mr. Fairless. I also make a specific suggestion.

Although the Australian Taxation Office wrote to the applicant to say that the Office would not process the application, something did happen. The thing that happened was that 30 days after the date when the application was lodged, section 15AC(3) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) had the effect of making a "deemed decision" to refuse the request ... this is unless the Commissioner grants more time.

Because of the effect of the Act, I make the following suggestions to the applicant:
(1) Do not write to the Australian Taxation Office and complain that a decision on your request is "overdue". It is not. A deemed decision was made 30 days after you lodged the application.
(2) Instead, use this Right to Know page (or you can create a new request page) to write exactly the same request to the Australian Taxation Office. If you want to grumble, then you can always say (in the new request email) that you made the same request earlier on this-and-then date.

I make this suggestion because if you only write and complain that your request is "overdue", then after a delay, the Australian Taxation Office might (correctly) write back to you and say, "No it is not". Of course, the purpose of this would be to delay to process your request (because the office will now have suddenly a lot of requests) but it will still have the effect that you must lodge a new request. Therefore, you can lose nothing to use this Right to Know page to make a new request now! It will start the clock again.

FOI, Australian Taxation Office

1 Attachment

Dear FOI Applicant,
Please see the attachment.
Yours faithfully,
FOI Team

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FOI, Australian Taxation Office

1 Attachment

Dear FOI Applicant,
Please see attachment.
Yours faithfully,
FOI Team

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