Dear Office of Parliamentary Counsel,
Please accept this request for internal review of FOI request no. 1-2021.
We ask that the Commonwealth Government email addresses currently redacted from this disclosure be disclosed. The emails are reportedly redacted for privacy reasons but without reference to specific allowable exemptions under the FOI legislation.
FOI request no. 1-2021 stated:
On 23 September 2019, OPC accepted a FOI request seeking among other documents:
“a copy of a proposed amendment to the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal (HOSM) declaration to extend eligibility to specific commercial contractors”
On 2 October 2019, OPC stated:
“the documents you seek were provided to OLDP, or produced by OLDP, in OLDP’s capacity as legal adviser to the DFAT and AusAID. These documents are exempt on the grounds of legal professional priviledge”
On 28 October 2019, OPC accepted an internal review of that decision.
On 26 Novemer 2019, OPC affirmed the original decision and stated:
“as indicated in your email you believe legal professional privilege has been waived, on the basis that AusAID disclosed the proposed amendment to you. However, the instructing agency entitled to claim the privilege is PM&C. OPC contacted PM&C to seek its views in relation to the request, but as no response has been received, it is not possible to be satisfied that PM&C has waived the privilege”.
FOI request no. 1-2021 sought:
Noting PM&C failed to respond to OPC’s contact seeking their views we sought:
1. The document from OPC to PM&C in which they seek their views
2. The addresses position title and department within PM&C
REASONS FOR DISCLOSURE
FOI legislation conditionally exempts information where disclosure would involve unreasonable disclosure of personal information. What is unreasonable depends on the circumstances. FOI Guidelines state "the information needs to convey or say something about a person, rather than just identify them”. The mere mention of a persons name doesn’t necessarily reveal personal information about them.
In this case the redacted information is merely Commonwealth Government email addresses. The information does not say anything about that person and as such it may not be considered personal information.
FOI Guidelines states “documents held by agencies often include a public servants name, work email address, position or title … Where public servants personal information is included in a document because of their usual duties it would not be unreasonable to disclose unless special circumstances existed”. Disclosing the redacted information can only reveal that public servants were performing their public duties.
OPC's decision to redact the email addresses didn’t identify any special circumstances that would apparently warrant non-disclosure in this case.
Disclosure will promote the objective’s of Australia’s FOI legislation and reassure the public of the integrity of the HOSM's administration. Disclosure will inform public awareness and debate on matters of profound cultural importance and will promote effective oversight of public expenditure.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
This e-mail and/or its attachments have been classified by OPC as For Official Use Only
Dear Mr [name removed],
Thank you for your email that was received by OPC on Friday 3 September 2020.
OPC's FOI contact officers will look into your request and respond accordingly within the timeframes specified by the FOI Act.
| FOI Contact Officer
a: 28 Sydney Ave Forrest ACT 2603
e: [OPC request email]
OPC—Celebrating 50 Years (1970–2020)
Thanks for this.