Gifts/Hospitality Register

Verity Pane made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Veterans' Affairs

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department of Veterans' Affairs should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

As you would be aware the Public Service Act 1999 specifies that a public servant must not take advantage, or seek to take advantage, of their official position in order to obtain a benefit for either themselves or someone else. Benefits that may compromise the ethics of a decision maker include:

gifts;
sponsored travel;
frequent flyer benefits;
airline lottery type prizes;
hospitality beyond the token (>$50);
accommodation;
car hire discounts; and
entertainment.

Where such gifts or hospitality are received, staff are required to report them and agencies are required to keep a register of such benefits and who the beneficiary was.

A gift may only be accepted with the express written approval of the Secretary. However, the Secretary may specify the conditions under which a gift or benefit may be accepted without seeking written approval.

Under FOI I seek:
* Copy of the DVA Gift/Hospitality Register (not supposed to be high frequency so only limited number of pages involved) (FY11/12-FY17/18 will do)
* Copy of any DVA directive or policy on gifts/hospitality received from a third party by DVA staff

I do not consent to the redaction of the names of public servants (whether now, or at the time their name was recorded) carrying out their official duties that may be recorded in those documents, given such information is not personal information, but emails and phone numbers may be redacted with consent.

Yours faithfully,

Verity Pane

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Dear Verity,

 

Acknowledgement of FOI Request – FOI 24816

 

I refer to your request to access information held by our Department under
the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).  The Department received
your request on 27 September 2018. In accordance with section 15(5)(b) of
the FOI Act, the Department has 30 days to process your request. As such,
a decision on your request is due by 29 October 2018.

 

If you have any questions about your FOI matter, please contact us using
the following details:

 

 

Post: Legal Services & Assurance, Department of Veterans’ Affairs

GPO Box 9998, Canberra ACT 2601

Facsimile: (02) 6289 6337

Email: [1][email address]

 

In all communications please quote reference FOI 24816.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Information Law Team

 

Information Law | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

GPO Box 9998 Canberra ACT 2601

E: [2][email address]

 

 

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Attachment FOI 24816 Statement of Reasons.pdf
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Attachment FOI 24816 Document final.pdf
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Dear Verity

 

FOI 24816 - Decision and Statement of Reasons

 

Please find attached the decision in relation to your freedom of
information request received by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 27
September 2018.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law | Legal Services & General Counsel Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

To: INFORMATION.LAW,

This appears to be an incomplete list, because it seems to be missing some obvious things, like the ANZAC Day match and Qantas Chairman’s Club memberships and gifted upgrades gifts. Can you confirm why they are missing.

I note the names are mostly DVA SES officers, therefore are already identifiable from your public website, so find the posturing ridiculous but since they are identifiable for the gifts disclosed, is a fairly moot (hence posturing is an apt description of your response) point.

Ms Pane

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Dear Verity Pane

The documents provided to you are the documents that have been identified as falling within the scope of your request.

Your review rights are outlined on page 9 of the decision letter.

Kind regards

Information Law Section | Legal Services & General Counsel Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
E: [email address]

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Attn INFORMATION.LAW,

Another typically opaque and deliberately bad faith response - those were within scope and noting that some DVA employees, including senior SES officers, are ignoring the Whole of Government Best Fare of the Day rules, just so as to make use of gifted Qantas lounge memberships (notably Chairman’s Lounge memberships fall into gifts as they are discretionary gifts made by Qantas which are not earnt due to flying activity but purely on the basis that it provides Qantas the opportunity to influence the decision making of selected individuals).

Internal Review is sought as clearly, yet again, DVA have been manipulating the FOI - in bad faith - to exclude that within scope.

It is a matter of public interest when senior DVA executives fail to follow government policy and spend Commonwealth funds contrary to Whole of Government directives, merely to derive a personal benefit (such as free booze and other gratuities) for their own personal private consumption.

DVA’s ongoing dishonesty, and bad faith remain ingrained and entrenched and highlights an agency where corruption and abuse of office can fester easily, especially given the hostility of the agency to transparency and accountability.

Sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Dear Ms Pane,

 

Acknowledgement of Internal Review Request – IR 25332

 

We refer to your request for Internal Review of FOI 24816 received on 31
October 2018.

 

Please accept this as acknowledgement of your request, noting a decision
will be due by 30 November 2018.

 

Kind regards,

 

Information Law | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

GPO Box 9998 Canberra ACT 2601

E: [1][email address]

 

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment image001.png
15K Download

Attachment FOI 25332 Statement of Reasons.pdf
537K Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Pane

 

FOI 25332 – Decision and Statement of Reasons

 

Please find attached the decision in relation to your freedom of
information internal review request received by the Department of
Veterans’ Affairs on 29 October 2018.

 

Kind regards

 

Information Law Section | Legal Services & Assurance Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

E: [1][email address]

 

[2]cid:image001.png@01D0027A.1DAB84F0

 

 

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Arthur Jordan left an annotation ()

At a recent Senate Estimates hearing, the Secretary Liz Cossons was asked about this very matter (selectively choosing Qantas over cheaper options so as to gain access to benefits from their Lounge). She stated that a renewed investigation revealed that, from memory, at least 4 staff were identified as falling into this category of being selective in using Qantas only because of Qantas Lounge privileges availed of. A search of Hansard will reveal the relevant testimony by Liz Cossons and others regarding this issue. Perhaps a reminder of this to DVA might yield productive results.

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Verity Pane left an annotation ()

Thanks Arthur, unfortunately the people over at the Department of Veterans‘ Affairs, particularly the Information Law area, do not change their unethical bad faith behaviour even when faced with hard evidence of their fraud.

To them, Freedom of Information is all a game, to delay, deny and prevent lawful access, and they have no qualms about lying to do so.

Hopefully this new Federal ICAC type body does get established and DVA is one of the first agencies its looks at, because as a recent Editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald stated “Several recent studies indicate Australia’s probity perception problem, including a study by Transparency International and Griffith University” and that there has been a jump in the proportion of people who believe agencies like DVA have been corrupted.

The evidence, in bad faith actions like these by DVA, supports this.

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