In regards to the Address to the National Equity in Higher Education Policy Forum

P. Gale made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

This request has been withdrawn by the person who made it. There may be an explanation in the correspondence below.

From: P. Gale

Delivered

To: The FOI Contact Officer
Department of Industry ... and Tertiary Education

Dear FOI Contact Officer,

On your department's web-site, http://minister.innovation.gov.au/sharon... , you have a speech the Minister for Higher Education and Skills (The Hon Sharon Bird MP) recently made. The speech is called "Address to the National Equity in Higher Education Poliicy Forum". The web page says the minister gave the speech on April 30th. In the speech, she says that it was at Sydney University. I request documents (details below) in regards to the forum.

PROVIDED THAT you can give me the documents within 30 calendar days of receipt of this application, please treat this as a request for access under the Administrative Access Scheme that the Australian Information Commissioner suggests each agency should establish. If you can not deal with this request in that way, or if in regards to any particular document it is not possible to meet the request within 30 days, then please treat the request, in regards to the document that cannot be provided within 30 days, as a formal application for the document under the Freedom of Information Act with the date of request as the date you receive this email

Please interpret "document" to mean "documents" where necessary or appropriate (for reasons, see http://bit.ly/Yu3jzG ) and to include electronic documents as appropriate. Please interpret "apply" "application", "request" as the same..

Documents I request:
--------------------------
1. I would like a copy of the agenda for the conference.
2. If forum attendees got an "attendee package" (or whatever it was reallly called) from the department , I would like a copy of each document in the package.
3. I request a copy of any presentations (Power Point slides etc.) that attendees got shown.
4. I request a copy of any briefing the department gave to the minister for the speech at the forum.
5. Documents regarding the cost charged for attendee registration.

The documents in 1, 2 and 3 were obviously made public at the forum or before. Only 4 looks like it might have to be a formal FOI request.

Thank you.

P. Gale (Mrs)

May 14th, 2013.

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From: Freedom of Information


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Dear Mrs Gale,

I refer to your request of 14 May 2013 for access under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to documents relating to a speech made by
Minister Sharon Bird at the Higher Education Policy Forum, the requested
documents are:

     “1. I would like a copy of the agenda for the conference;

       2. If forum attendees got an "attendee package" (or whatever it was
really called) from the department, I would like a copy of each document
in the package;

       3. I request a copy of any presentations (Power Point slides etc.)
that attendees got shown;

       4. I request a copy of any briefing the department gave to the
minister for the speech at the forum; and

       5. Documents regarding the cost charged for attendee registration”.

 

Agencies may give access to documents outside of the provisions of the FOI
Act.  As such, items 1, 2, 3 and 5 of your request can be processed
outside of the FOI Act.  In order for us to process these parts of your
request outside of the FOI Act, we need you to withdraw your FOI request
for these items.  Please let us know if you agree to withdraw your FOI
request for items 1, 2, 3 and 5.

 

We would like to discuss item 4 of your request with you.  Could you
please provide us with your contact number so we can telephone you in
regard to item 4 of your request.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries regarding
this email.

 

Kind regards,

Rebecca

 

Rebecca Ng

Senior FOI Officer

Legal Branch

Corporate Division

Department of Industry, Innovation, 

Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

Level 13 – 10 Binara St

Canberra City ACT 2600
GPO Box 9839, Canberra ACT 2601
Ph: +61-2-6102 8104;

Email: [1][email address]
Internet: [2]http://www.innovation.gov.au
ABN 74 599 608 295

 

Legal In Confidence - This transmission is intended only for the use of
the addressee and may contain confidential or legally privileged
information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that
any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If
you have received this transmission in error, please notify me immediately
by telephone and delete copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

 

 

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References

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http://www.innovation.gov.au/

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

Dear FOI officer,

Thank you for your correspondence of May 28th, 2013. I am a little confused about your response. My original email makes it quite clear that it is not a formal request under the FOI Act, and that it would only become such a request if you cannot provide me with the documents requested within 30 days. Given that's the case, I don't feel I need to withdraw or modify the request at this stage. If you cannot provide me with the documents (the majority of which must of necessity have already been made public!) within 30 days of my original email, then it will become a formal FOI request.

In regards to item 4 of my request ("I request a copy of any briefing the department gave to the minister for the speech at the forum") I am happy to discuss the request with you but I prefer to do so by email. One of the advantages of the www.righttoknow.org.au website is that it lets other people to see the nature and progress of FOI requests and maintains a public record of requests. I can appreciate the advantages of a discussion by telephone but it would interrupt the openness the righttoknow.org.au strives for.

Perhaps you could let me know what it is you would like to discuss, or ask me your questions?

At the risk of being wrong, I assume that you are looking for clarification of the scope of my item 4, in which case I can add the following. I limit my request to briefing notes that were provided for the minister (a) no earlier than 21 days preceding the forum (ie: on or after Monday, April 8th 2013) and (b) with the intention of preparing the minister for questions that she might have been expected to receive from attendees at the forum. If more than one such document exists, perhaps you could briefly describe their nature. If no documents exist, please let me know, and then consider my request in item 4 to be withdrawn.

Finally, if you decide to treat any part of my original request as a formal FOI request, I will accept your email of May 28th, 2013 as being the formal notice required by s 15(5)(a). Before I sent my request, I'd looked at a similar request (by Mr Peter Timmins) on http://righttoknow.org.au but I had no idea that mixing a request for administrative access with an FOI request could get so messy!

Thank you.

P. Gale (Mrs)

May 28th, 2013.

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P. Gale left an annotation ()

When I was drafting my original request to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, and also trying to understand how to use this righttoknow.org.au website, I saw a request from Mr Peter Timmins (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r.... I liked his idea about administrative access, and copied the words that he had used but in my case it looks as if it has backfired. I can see that the department has to judge whether they can handle the request in 30 days. If they can, they avoid the formality of dealing with an FOI request. If they judge correctly that they cannot handle the request in 30 days, then they can just convert the request to a formal FOI request and use the provisions of the Act to get an extension of time. The problems for the department are likely to come about only if they decide to deal with the request informally but then run out of time. They probably prefer just a straight adminsitrative access request or a straight FOI request. I can't see why my most of my request can't be handled really quickly: there was obviously a forum, and either attendees got given stuff or they didn't. It they didn't, then most of my request is void. If they did, then the documents are already in the public domain so there can't be any problems about just emailing them to me.

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

To: The FOI Contact Officer
Department of Industry ... and Tertiary Education

Dear FOI Contact Officer,

In regards my request for documents about the Address to the National Equity in Higher Education Policy Forum.

You wrote me last week and said, "We would like to discuss item 4 of your request with you." In my reply, I said I thought you may want me to clarify the scope of my request. Was that what you wanted me to do? Was the clarification I included in my last email enough or was there another question you had about my request that I did not answer?

Thank you.

P. Gale (Mrs)
June 4th, 2013.

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From: Freedom of Information

Dear Mrs Gale,

 

I apologise for the delay in responding to your email of 28 May 2013.

 

I have liaised with the relevant line area regarding this matter and have
been advised that all the requested documents will be provided to you
outside of the FOI Act.

 

The relevant line area will send the documents to you directly.

 

Kind regards

 

Rebecca Ng

Senior FOI Officer

Legal Branch

Corporate Division

Department of Industry, Innovation,

Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education Level 13 – 10
Binara St Canberra City ACT 2600 GPO Box 9839, Canberra ACT 2601

Ph: +61-2-6102 8104;

Email: [1][email address]

Internet: [2]http://www.innovation.gov.au

ABN 74 599 608 295

 

Legal In Confidence - This transmission is intended only for the use of
the addressee and may contain confidential or legally privileged
information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that
any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If
you have received this transmission in error, please notify me immediately
by telephone and delete copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

 

 

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

Dear FOI Officer

Thank you for your correspondence of June 5th, 2013. In the letter (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/i... you said, "I ... have been advised that all the requested documents will be provided to you outside of the FOI Act." This was pleasing news but there is now a problem. It is because of this problem that I am now writing to you.

In my original request I said, and have since repeated, that I was happy for this to be dealt with under administrative arrangements PROVIDED that I am given the documents within 30 days of the date of my application. The period of 30 days will expire at the end of today, and I have not received anything. Therefore very little time remains for your department to deal with my request under administrative arrangements.

As I said in my original letter (http://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/in..., "if in regards to any particular document it is not possible to meet the request within 30 days, then please treat the request, in regards to the document that cannot be provided within 30 days, as a formal application for the document under the Freedom of Information Act with the date of request as the date you receive this email [ie., May 14th, 2013]".

This means that if I am not sent the documents before tomorrow, then by tomorrow morning my request will have to be understood as having been a formal application under the FOI Act with an application date of May 14th, 2013. This was exactly what I hoped to avoid.

Doubtless the delay to send me the documents is nothing concerned with you personally. I regret that you are in the position of having to sort it out!

Would you like me to agree to an extension of time for handling the formal application? If so, please let me know what time you need.

Thank you.

P.Gale (Mrs)
June 13th, 2013.

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From: Freedom of Information

Dear Mrs Gale,

In response to your email below, I note that we have already indicated to
you that we are able to handle your request for information outside of the
FOI Act. 

The relevant line area is endeavouring to process the request as quickly
as possible and I am advised that the documents should be provided to you
no later than Friday 21 June 2013.  Please note there is no specific
timeframe for providing documents outside of the FOI Act.  However, if you
wish the request to be handled in accordance with the FOI Act, please
confirm this in writing by return email.

Kind regards,

 

Rebecca Ng

Senior FOI Officer

Legal Branch

Corporate Division

Department of Industry, Innovation, 

Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

Level 13 – 10 Binara St

Canberra City ACT 2600
GPO Box 9839, Canberra ACT 2601
Ph: +61-2-6102 8104;

Email: [1][email address]
Internet: [2]http://www.innovation.gov.au
ABN 74 599 608 295

 

Legal In Confidence - This transmission is intended only for the use of
the addressee and may contain confidential or legally privileged
information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that
any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If
you have received this transmission in error, please notify me immediately
by telephone and delete copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

Dear FOI Officer

Thank you for your quick reply.

You are correct in saying that your Department had said that it would provide me with the documents I requested and that it would do so outside the FOI Act. That is not at issue. Nor is it at issue whether there is a statutory timeframe to be met. The issue is that I said very specifically and very clearly in my original request (in an attempt to relieve the department of some of the recording obligations under the Act) that PROVIDED the documents were given to me within 30 days then I was willing to have the matter handled under administrative arrangements.

I also said very clearly that, if the department could not provide me with the documents within 30 days of my request then it should be treated as a formal application under the Act. I cannot conceive a way in which a person might state that more clearly.

The problem with an administrative request that did not contain the kind of proviso that I deliberately included in my own letter, is that all the benefit of the administrative arrangements is in favour of the department and none to the benefit of the applicant!

Yet, despite the grave misgivings that I entertain, I agree to the timeframe that you are suggesting for handling my request under administrative arrangements. Furthermore, I abandon/cancel the formal FOI aspect of my original application. If I need to, I will make a separate, formal FOI application in the future.

The unfortunate aspect of this is that a person who reads this correspondence may think twice before considering using administrative access arrangements rather than to rely on the formal mechanisms of the Act.

Sincerely yours.

P.Gale (Mrs)
June 13th, 2013

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P. Gale left an annotation ()

My suggestion to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education to provide me with the documents I want under an administrative access scheme has turned out very badly.

They should have been able to put almost all the documents I wanted into an email and send it to me very quickly since they've already given them to who ever paid to go to the forum. But they've given me nothing! It looks like this is the same kind of bad experience that Mr Timmins (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/l... had with his suggestion to the Attorney General's Department to use administrative arrangements to give him the documents he wanted.

I'm going to withdraw this request and put another application in that's a straight request under the Act with no room for confusion.

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From: P. Gale

Delivered

Dear FOI Officer,

I am writing to inform you of my decision to withdraw my request of May 14th, 2013 for documents in regards to the forum referred to by your department as a “National Equity in Higher Education Poliicy Forum”, held at Sydney University on April 30th, 2013.

In my initial email I offered your department a choice for dealing with the request. I said the department could use administative arrangements if it wanted, but only if it could give me the documents by the close of business on June 13th, 2013. Alternatively the department could treat the matter as a formal request under the F.O.I. Act. Your department made an implicit choice to handle my request under administrative arrangements but then did not deliver the documents by the implicitly agreed date.

Instead, you wrote me June 13th and said you had been advised "the documents should be provided ... no later than Friday 21 June 2013." In spite of very strong misgivings, I agreed to give your department the additional time to use adminsitrative arrangements to give me the requested documents.

Unfortunately, we're now at the very end of "Friday 21 June 2013" and I have not been given the documents. Consequently I withdraw my request of May 14th.

I will made a new, formal request under the Act.

Thank you.

P. Gale (Mrs)
June 21st, 2013.

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