Final report of the "Waterproofing Eastern Adelaide" Feasibility Study

Dan Monceaux made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The request was refused by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

From: Dan Monceaux

Delivered

Dear Department of Agriculture and Water Resources FoI Officers,

I am requesting an electronic copy (scan) of the final report of the Waterproofing Eastern Adelaide Feasibility Study, which received $500,000 in Commonwealth funding from this department under the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan.

I am making this request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Yours faithfully,

Dan Monceaux

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Dear Mr Monceaux

I acknowledge receipt of your below FOI request.

Regards

Melissa Nickols
FOI Officer
Office of the General Counsel | Freedom of Information and Privacy Section
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Phone +61 2 6272 3933

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources


Attachment FOI2016.17 36 charge.pdf
589K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Monceaux

Please find attached a letter about your FOI request.

Regards

Melissa Nickols
FOI Officer
Office of the General Counsel   |   Freedom of Information and Privacy Section
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Phone +61 2 6272 3537  

------
IMPORTANT - This email and any attachments have been issued by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The material transmitted is for the use of the intended recipient only and may contain confidential, legally privileged, copyright or personal information. You should not copy, use or disclose it without authorisation from the Department. It is your responsibility to check any attachments for viruses and defects before opening or forwarding them.

If you are not an intended recipient, please contact the sender of this email at once by return email and then delete both messages. Unintended recipients must not copy, use, disclose, rely on or publish this email or attachments. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is not liable for any loss or damage resulting from unauthorised use or dissemination of, or any reliance on, this email or attachments.

If you have received this e-mail as part of a valid mailing list and no longer want to receive a message such as this one, advise the sender by return e-mail accordingly. This notice should not be deleted or altered
------

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From: Dan Monceaux

Delivered

Dear Ms Brenner,

Thank you for providing a Statement of Charges last week in response to my Freedom of Information request.

I was quite surprised to see that your department is requesting a fee of $1138 to process this request and deliver a single document. While I consider putting a case for fee reduction or non-imposition forward, I would like some more information regarding the Statement of Charges provided.

1) How many pages in length is the document which has been requested?
2) What are the reasons for the extensive projected labor requirement (60+ hours)?

Yours sincerely,

Dan Monceaux

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Dear Mr Monceaux,

 

FOI2016/17-36

The document is 265 pages long.

 

FOI2016/17-37

There are three relevant documents totalling 179 pages.

 

As advised in the charges letters, the documents contain third party
information and the department is required to consult with third parties
on release. The documents are significant in length and contain a range of
complex information requiring consideration of a number of exemptions in
the FOI Act. The charges include time for consultation, decision making,
and preparing the documents for release, including applying any relevant
exemptions to the document.

 

Regards

 

Kathleen Brenner

A/g Principal Government Lawyer | Office of the General Counsel

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

18 Marcus Clarke Street

CANBERRA  ACT  2601

t: +61 2 6272 5925 e: [1][email address]

 

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Dear Mr Monceaux,

 

FOI2016/17-36

The document is 265 pages long.

 

FOI2016/17-37

There are three relevant documents totalling 179 pages.

 

As advised in the charges letters, the documents contain third party
information and the department is required to consult with third parties
on release. The documents are significant in length and contain a range of
complex information requiring consideration of a number of exemptions in
the FOI Act. The charges include time for consultation, decision making,
and preparing the documents for release, including applying any relevant
exemptions to the document.

 

Regards

 

Kathleen Brenner

A/g Principal Government Lawyer | Office of the General Counsel

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

18 Marcus Clarke Street

CANBERRA  ACT  2601

t: +61 2 6272 5925 e: [1][email address]

 

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Ben Fairless left an annotation ()

I sent this information to Dan at 7am over the weekend, and am publishing it here for transparency:

I’m quite shocked by that figure - normally they would seek to use s 24 of the FOI Act and consult with you before reaching a ridiculous figure (but I know that the Attorney-General’s department got a similar figure for a request once).

Public Interest is always one to plead - If the government has spent $500,000 in Taxpayer funds, does it mean that a study should be released? Is there any news articles or is it a contentious issue? I always recommend asking for a Public Interest Reduction and stating the reasons why it’s in the interests of the public, or a substantial group of the public (maybe it affects a group of people).

You could also consider asking for hardship, but you will need to prove that by disclosing personal information on your finances and the information might become public (the double edged sword of Right to Know).

One that is often overlooked is if the charges were calculated correctly in the first place - I often argue that some agencies (I’m looking at you DIBP) charge fees simply because they think people will pay them, or they significantly overstate the work that will be needed. If you show you have a basic understanding of the Act and ask them to justify their time, the figure drops dramatically.

It’s also worth noting that if you don’t receive a decision within the timeframes provided for under the Act, I think the fee is waived (but they will extend 30 days for consultation anyway) but it might be worth double checking that.

I’ve just had a play with an FOI Calculator on the Agriculture website and I can’t reach that figure they are quoting (I’m off by several hundred dollars). While the calculator isn’t 100% reliable it’s certainly a large discrepancy.

In consultations with business, the department can only consider 2x exemptions (s 47 - Trade Secrets or s 47G - Business Information).

I would ask them:
- How much time do they consider spending consulting with third parties, how many parties are there, and what kind of third parties are there?
- Is there a way the request can be revised to reduce duplicate material (by removing personal information)?
- Ask for a reduction on Public Interest Grounds (that the documents are in the general public interest or in the interest of a substantial section of the public)
- Indicate that the charges need to be reassessed (They are charging nearly $6.75 per page, which is quite a lot!) on the basis that they are excessive.

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From: Dan Monceaux

Delivered

Dear Ms Brenner,

I am writing in response to the Notice of Charges issued to me in response to this request last month. I am providing you with a letter from my mother, Councillor Dorothy Anne Monceaux, to whom I was intending to provide the documentation once released.

Her letter, provided below in quotation marks, requests a reconsideration of the Notice of Charges, on grounds of Public Interest and Financial Hardship.

Please provide further correspondence to this email address as I will be continuing to administer this request on my mother's behalf.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Monceaux

“Dear FoI Officers,

I am an elected member of the City of Burnside Council in South Australia and as such I am a Public Officer. I asked my son Dan Monceaux to assist me by lodging two FoI applications on my behalf because he understands the process better than I do. I did not expect that the costs associated with fulfilling these requests would be so burdensome, else I would have lodged the requests in my own name.

I am providing the following information in the hopes that it assists you in reconsidering the notice of charge previously received for this request. I am seeking a reduction or waiver of charges, owing to the public interest nature of these documents, and the financial hardship payment of the notice of charge in full would cause me.

Burnside Council is one of three councils partnering in the ERA Water Scheme to which the requested documents are foundation documents. Elected members have not been given full information to make decisions about this $21 million project by those who possess it. As part of my duties as a Public Officer, I am requesting this information in order to present it to other elected members, assist further discussions within Council and safeguard the financial interest of Burnside ratepayers and Commonwealth taxpayers.

In council meetings, there have been a series of motions put, and several resolutions passed about this project. The information in these FoIs is of great public importance to councillors and the people whose interests they represent. The case for public interest hinges on the economic scale of the project and the acknowledged risk of potentially large financial losses to ratepayers.
I have discussed the public interest value of the requested documents with other elected members and they have expressed their interest in receiving the information contained therein to me personally.

Public interest is further demonstrated by the publication of several articles about this project in South Australian newspapers over the several years. Link to online versions of two such articles are provided below:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/...

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/...

Despite my son initially lodging these requests, I intend to pay for these documents personally. I am 67 years old and my husband are I are both retired. I only work part-time and have a limited income. As such, I ask you to give further consideration to reducing or waiving the charges on the grounds of their potential to cause me financial hardship.

The documents requested are of great importance to me as a Public Officer and to all the Elected Members at Burnside Council. Their release will assist ratepayers in overseeing the proper expenditure of large amounts of public funds by Senior Public Officers. In view of this, and the financial hardship the payment of the present notices of charge would impose on me, I am requesting you to consider reducing or waiving the charges.

Yours faithfully,

Dorothy Anne Monceaux

Councillor, Beaumont Ward, City of Burnside, South Australia"

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Jay left an annotation ()

Have you and your mother considered sending these guys a letter in her capacity as an elected official, rather than pursuing the FOI? Or even getting the Council to ask?

I suspect public servants would consider requests from officials that have actually been elected by a constituency. Better yet, if you could persuade the rest of the councillors then the Council could get at least some information. Or perhaps a briefing? Just some thoughts for getting the outcome outside the formalism of an FoI request. Perhaps you've already tried though.

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Our References: FOI2016/17-36, FOI2016/17-37

Dear Mr Moncreaux,

I refer to your emails of 10 February 2017 in response to the charges notices sent to you for the processing of your two FOI requests.

In your emails you provide comments from your mother, who is seeking a reduction or a waiver of the charges on public interest and financial hardship grounds.

The department is unable to accept your mother’s contentions as she is not the FOI applicant for these requests.

If you wish to seek a reduction or waiver of the charges, as the FOI applicant, you must provide your own grounds with the accompanying evidence. Alternatively, you can pay the charges for your FOI requests to be processed.

If you and/or your mother wish to rely upon the grounds put forward by your mother, you may wish to withdraw your current requests and have your mother lodge her own requests for the information sought from the department. She may wish to do so in her personal capacity, or in her capacity as elected member of the Burnside City Council or on behalf of the Burnside Council.

Due to the large number of documents currently in scope, and the resultant charge, she may also wish to review the scope of her request, to reduce the charge.

Please let us know how you wish to proceed.

Regards,

Marianne

Marianne Nolte-Crimp
Government Lawyer | Office of the General Counsel | Freedom of Information and Privacy Section
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
18 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

Phone (02) 6271 6529 |Email [Department of Agriculture and Water Resources request email]

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From: Nolte-Crimp, Marianne
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Our References: FOI2016/17-36 ; FOI2016/17-37

 

Dear Mr Monceaux,

 

I am writing to you in relation to your request under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982.

 

On 13 January 2017 the department sent you a charges notice, advising that
you were liable to pay a charge in respect to processing your request.

 

Under the FOI Act, you were required to respond to the notice by 12
February 2017 by either:

1.       agreeing to pay the charge;

2.       contending the charge; or

3.       withdrawing your request.

 

You have not done any of these. Rather, your mother contended the charge
in an email sent by you on 10  February 2017. As advised on 17 February
2017, the department  is unable to accept your mother’s contentions, as
you are the applicant for the request.

 

As such, your request is ‘deemed’ withdrawn, pursuant to s 29(2) of the
FOI Act.

 

No further action will be taken on this request.

 

Regards,

 

Marianne Nolte-Crimp

Government Lawyer | Office of the General Counsel | Freedom of Information
and Privacy Section

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

18 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

 

Phone (02) 6271 6529 |Email [1][email address]

 

------ IMPORTANT - This email and any attachments have been issued by the
Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The
material transmitted is for the use of the intended recipient only and may
contain confidential, legally privileged, copyright or personal
information. You should not copy, use or disclose it without authorisation
from the Department. It is your responsibility to check any attachments
for viruses and defects before opening or forwarding them. If you are not
an intended recipient, please contact the sender of this email at once by
return email and then delete both messages. Unintended recipients must not
copy, use, disclose, rely on or publish this email or attachments. The
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is not liable for any loss
or damage resulting from unauthorised use or dissemination of, or any
reliance on, this email or attachments. If you have received this e-mail
as part of a valid mailing list and no longer want to receive a message
such as this one, advise the sender by return e-mail accordingly. This
notice should not be deleted or altered ------

References

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From: Dan Monceaux

Delivered

Dear Ms Nolte-Crimp,

I do not wish to withdraw this request. I understand that my mother's case for reconsideration of fees (possible reduction or waiver) is not able to be considered, as I was the initial applicant. As such, I making my own case as follows.

PUBLIC INTEREST CASE

I am a resident and rate-paying member of the City of Burnside local government area, which is a financially committed party to the ERA Water project for which documentation has been requested.

My understanding, based on news reports, Council minutes, and questions and motions put before the Council by my mother, Councillor Anne Monceaux, is that there is a concerning degree of financial risk associated with this project. This project could result in ongoing financial liabilities to be borne by the rate-payers of the City of Burnside for many years to come.

As such I am seeking access to this documentation to make a more thorough assessment of the project and its business case. Once released, I intend to share this information with my family, which includes my father and mother, who share an active interest in this project.

The release of this documentation will also help the City of Burnside and other LGA's participating in this project make better informed decisions regarding their present and future involvement in the scheme and management of risk.

Burnside Council is one of three councils currently partnering in the ERA Water Scheme to which the requested documents are foundation documents. Previously there were five, two have withdrawn, with at least one, the City of Tea Tree Gully, publicly citing financial risk as a deciding factor.

My mother informs me that elected members have not been given full access to information which would help the Council make informed decisions about this $21 million project. In addition to my own interest as a resident and ratepayer, the release of this documentation will assist my mother and fellow elected members in their discussions within Council and ensure that the financial interests of Burnside ratepayers and Commonwealth taxpayers are protected.

I have attended council meetings as a visitor in the gallery and observed a series of motions have being put, and various resolutions passed related to this project. To date, the information available to myself, the wider public and Councillors is lacking detail.

The information requested in these FoIs will serve the public interest by helping to remedy this situation.

Public interest is further demonstrated by media reports, including the examples linked below:

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/...

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/...

The documents requested are of great importance to me as an almost life-long resident of the City of Burnside who is concerned about present and future financial impacts to the City and its residents.

Furthermore, the Department of Water is in a position to indirectly assist the elected members of the City of Burnside Council by releasing this documentation to me. The Public interest case hinges on the opportunity this release provides to facilitate the detailed consideration of the soliciting and expenditure of public money and the management of financial risk associated with ERA Water.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Monceaux

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Our References: FOI2016/17-36 ; FOI2016/17-37

Dear Mr Monceaux

Your two FOI requests are now closed as they have been deemed withdrawn under section 29(1)(g) of the FOI Act.

As set out in my email of 24 February 2017, you failed to give the department the requisite notice to either agree to pay the charge, or contend the charge or withdraw your request within the 30 days of receiving the charges notices for your requests.

You are welcome to lodge new FOI requests with the department.

Regards,

Marianne Nolte-Crimp
Government Lawyer | Office of the General Counsel | Freedom of Information and Privacy Section
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
18 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

Phone (02) 6271 6529 |Email [Department of Agriculture and Water Resources request email]

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Anyone:
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