Dear Department of Immigration and Citizenship,
I would like to know how many 'illegal' boats arrived in Australian waters since September 7, 2013 please.
How many people were on these boats? How many of these were children? How many were women?
Our references: FA 13/09/00997; ADF2013/30950
To Angela Osborne
Via: [FOI #417 email]
Dear Ms Osborne
I refer to your request for access to information, received on Saturday 21
September 2013 for:
“Dear Department of Immigration and Citizenship,
I would like to know how many 'illegal' boats arrived in Australian
waters since September 7, 2013 please.
How many people were on these boats? How many of these were children?
How many were women?”
This email is to advise that the Department has not accepted your request
as valid under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). This is
because your request is for 'information' and not for a document in the
Department’s possession at the time of your request. I will outline more
fully the reasons for this below.
Access to Documents
The right to request documents under the FOI Act is outlined in the
Guidelines published by the Office of the Australian Information
Section 11(1) of the FOI Act gives every person a legally enforceable
right to obtain access to a document of an agency or an official document
of a minister, unless the document is exempt. [para 2.1]
The right of access enshrined in the FOI Act applies to ‘documents’. This
term is defined in s 4(1) to include maps, photographs, and any article
from which sounds, images or writing are capable of being reproduced (for
example, emails). There is no general obligation on agencies to reduce
information to written documentary form in order to facilitate an FOI
request, except in relation to information that is stored on a computer
tape or disk (s 17). [para 1.26]
The right of access is to existing documents, rather than to information.
The FOI Act does not require an agency or minister to create a new
document in response to a request for access, except in limited
circumstances where the applicant seeks access in a different format (see
Part 8 of these Guidelines) or where the information is stored in an
agency computer system rather than in discrete form.
The right of access applies to documents that exist at the time the FOI
request was made. [para 3.8]
Therefore, any general request for 'information' or 'data' that does not
already exist in the Department’s documents is considered an invalid
request. As a result, the Department has closed your request as invalid.
The full Guidelines can be accessed on the OAIC's website at:
Manager FOI Help Desk
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Email: [email address]