Industry Representatives and TPP

Evelyn Doyle made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The request was refused by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

I seek under the FOI Act a list of all business representatives, industry association representatives or lobbyists that accompanied the Minister for Trade, the Hon Andrew Robb MP on negotiations and meetings related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Please take the request to mean those who were invited to attend and/or who attended, even if they did not specifically accompany the Minister.

Please exclude duplicate documents. The outcomes of the TPP will have an impact on all Australians and as such I request this information be provided free of charge in the public interest. Given the department has already advised the negotiations are confidential, it is important to know who has participated in negotiations other than official government representatives. I also anticipate this request will be quick to process, and as such would not create an unnecessary burden to the department.

I have seen a relevant document on an FOI disclosure log previously (I've forgotten which agency) but it seems to have been removed from the website, as all attempts to find it have been unsuccessful. Perhaps you can provide a link if this information is already to be found online, I could withdraw the request.

Thanks in advance.

Yours faithfully,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Hello

I have not yet received a response to my FOI request. I wonder if you could advise receipt.

Yours faithfully,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle

Thank you for your email of 18 February 2015 in which you seek access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to:

“I seek under the FOI Act a list of all business representatives, industry association representatives or lobbyists that accompanied the Minister for Trade, the Hon Andrew Robb MP on negotiations and meetings related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Please take the request to mean those who were invited to attend and/or who attended, even if they did not specifically accompany the Minister.”

Searches are now being undertaken in relevant areas of the Department for documents relevant to your request. I will contact you again once the searches have been completed.

Timeframe for receiving your decision:
We received your request on 18 February 2015 and the 30 day statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after that date. You should therefore expect a decision from us by 21 March 2015. The period of 30 days may be extended in certain circumstances. We will advise you if there is any extension of time.

Scope of request:
If it emerges that the scope of your request is unclear or is too large for processing, the Department will contact you to discuss re-scoping the request.

Exclusion of officers’ names and contact details:
It is the Department’s policy to withhold the names and contact details of officers not in the Senior Executive Service (SES) within the Department and other agencies contained within documents that fall within the scope of the request. If you require the names and contact details of non-SES officers please let us know at [DFAT request email] so the decision-maker may consider. Otherwise, we will take it that you agree to that information being excluded from the scope of your request.

Charges:
Please note that the Department issues charges for processing FOI requests. We will advise you of these charges when we are in a position to estimate the resources required to process your request.

Timing of release:
As the subject matter of your request will require DFAT to upload any documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, I take this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to upload released documents within one business day of your receipt of the documents.

Personal Information:
Your personal information has been collected by the Department as a result of your correspondence, and will be used in order to process your FOI request. Your personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988. The Department’s privacy policy is available at dfat.gov.au/privacy.html and contains information about access to or correction of your personal information, and how you may complain about a breach of your privacy.
Please note that if we need to consult with other people regarding release of the documents you have requested, we may need to disclose your personal information. When we consult with other people about a request you have made, it may be apparent to those people that you have made a request, even if we do not disclose your identity. If you have concerns about the Department consulting with other people about your request, please let us know your concerns.

Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me by return email.

Please note a copy of this email has been sent to Ms Indra McCormick, Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section, for her information.

Yours sincerely

DFAT FOI Team

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle

I refer to your FOI request below and would like to seek clarification on the date range for the documents which you seek access to.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Kind regards

DFAT FOI TEAM

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I don't know which dates industry representatives attended. Perhaps you could advise relevant dates according to the files, if you have ascertained a date range from early searches?

Otherwise take it as from the date TPP negotiations commenced and only those which included Australian official or non-official attendees.

Happy to take some advice on this.

Cheers,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I have not yet received a response to my earlier correspondence in relation to date ranges. I am happy to take some advice on this as you are equipped with all the relevant information. Perhaps there is a contact number I can call to seek advice.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle

The relevant line area within the Department has suggested the following scope for your consideration:

"A list of all business representatives, industry association representatives or lobbyists that accompanied the Minister for Trade, the Hon Andrew Robb MP to ministerial negotiations related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) since September 2013 when Mr Robb was appointed to the Trade Portfolio. Please take the request to mean those who were invited to attend and/or who attended, even if they did not specifically accompany the Minister".

Please advise whether you agree to the suggested scope above. If you wish to discuss further, please contact the Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section on (02) 6261 3056.

Kind regards

DFAT FOI TEAM

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Thank you for your advice on this request.

I agree to your suggestion regarding scope. That is:

"A list of all business representatives, industry association representatives or lobbyists that accompanied the Minister for Trade, the Hon Andrew Robb MP to ministerial negotiations related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) since September 2013 when Mr Robb was appointed to the Trade Portfolio. Please take the request to mean those who were invited to attend and/or who attended, even if they did not specifically accompany the Minister".

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle

 

Thank you for your agreement to rescope your FOI request :

 

"A list of all business representatives, industry association
representatives or lobbyists that accompanied the Minister for Trade, the
Hon Andrew Robb MP to ministerial negotiations related to the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) since September 2013 when Mr Robb was
appointed to the Trade Portfolio. Please take the request to mean those
who were invited to attend and/or who attended, even if they did not
specifically accompany the Minister".

 

The Department would like to request a 30 day extension of time under
section 15AA of the FOI Act 1982 as key staff from the relevant line area
will be travelling overseas for negotioations.  If you agree to this
extension, the Department will endevour to provide you with a decision in
response to your request by 20 April 2015.

 

I would be grateful for your response to this request by return email.

 

Please note a copy of this email has been sent to Indra McCormick,
Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section, for her
information.

 

Yours sincerely

 

DFAT FOI TEAM

 

 

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Yes, I am happy to agree to an extension of 30 days with response due by 20 April 2015.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Thank you Ms Doyle.

We will inform the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner of the extension.

Yours sincerely

DFAT FOI TEAM

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment DOC007.PDF.pdf
58K Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Doyle
 
Please find attached the Department’s decision letter in relation to your
current FOI request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 

Stephanie Allan
Assistant Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Corporate Legal Branch E |  [1][email address]
Legal Division T |  +61 2 6261 2541
W|  [2]www.dfat.gov.au

Please note I do not work on Fridays.
 
 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.dfat.gov.au/

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Allen and Ms Cheung

Thank you for your letter refusing my request under section 23. I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's handling of my FOI request 'Industry Representatives and TPP'.

The department has advised it holds no documents that are relevant to my request. At the same time the department also advises that "...industry representatives made themselves available to negotiators on the sidelines of TPP ministerial meetings held since September 2103 of their own accord, and therefore, the department does not have a list or record of these representatives."

Given the potential impact of the TPP, I am surprised that the department or the Minister's Office would have no official record, list or documents that would outline those industry representatives who are assisting (of their own accord) in these important negotiations.

While I understand DFAT has agreed to secrecy around the TPP negotiations in relation to documents which relate to content of proceedings, documents that relate to the mechanics of processes, participants and procedures, would not fall under this exemption.

I would like to request the department review the decision that there are no relevant documents to be found about industry representatives involvement in TPP negotiations. Perhaps these documents are sitting within another agency or the Minister's Office (or his staff), in which case, the department could advise to whom the request should be sent. Perhaps there is written correspondence from these industry representatives to the Minister or the department regarding the TPP, which would also indicate their identity.

In your deliberations please note I would also be happy for the department just to note who these industry representatives are in your review response, similar to your earlier response in which you indicated their participation on the sidelines without the need to supply a document.

Finally I submit there is a strong public interest case in the TPP including who might be influencing, even of their own accord, the path of these negotiations. It is difficult to imagine there is no official record of their involvement.

Thanks in advance for any assistance with my internal review request.

Yours faithfully,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle

 

Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request for Internal Review

 

Thank you for your email of today’s date applying for an internal review
of the access decision by Ada Cheung on your request for documents
relating to Industry representatives and the TPP under the Freedom of
Information Act 1982.

 

A new decision-maker will be appointed to undertake the internal review of
Ms Cheung’s decision on your request.  The new decision-maker will write
to you directly to advise you of his or her decision. 

 

In the meantime, should you have any queries, please contact me on (02)
6261 2541, or at [1][DFAT request email]

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Stephanie Allan

Assistant Director

Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Corporate Legal Branch

 

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Thanks for your quick response.

Cheers,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Internal review decision letter Evelyn Doyle Right to Know 1502 F1....pdf
61K Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Doyle
 
Please find attached the decision-maker’s response to your internal review
application.
 
Regards
 
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
 
 

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI Section,

Thank you for you response in which you indicate that an internal review was not the place to re-scope my FOI request. I think you misinterpreted my intention which was to suggest that as the department had already indicated that industry representatives were involved on the sidelines of the TPP negotiations (without the need to supply a document), that a similar list could be provided to me based on internal knowledge of the participants, even in the absence of an official document.

Following from your lead, may I use this opportunity to request administrative access to a list of industry representatives who were attending 'on the sidelines' as indicated by your department in earlier correspondence. Or if unable to do so, could you direct me to the appropriate person within the Minister's Office that would be able to assist.

I am hopeful that the department and the Minister would not wish to keep secret the names of industry representatives involved on the sidelines in these important negotiations.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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Evelyn Doyle left an annotation ()

I have spoken with the department today in relation to my follow-up letter above. The FOI section advises the Office of Trade Negotiations (the division responsible) are all travelling to Guam at the moment but they will pass my request for administrative access to them for consideration.

It is interesting to note that the spokesperson said the department always has the discretion to produce a list even if one does not exist, in response to FOI, or other, requests. The FOI spokesperson also suggested I could put in a new FOI request. This is well meant, however an odd suggestion given the first request was already refused by the line area under 'no document exists'. To submit another FOI request for the same material seems rather futile if the result will be the same.

It is clear that while the Department can use discretion to produce a list in response to this FOI request, they have chosen not to.

I have been advised that my request for administrative access will be forwarded to the Office of Trade Negotiations for consideration. Hoping the outcome will be positive this time around.

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I would like an update to my request for administrative access to the list of industry representatives working on the sidelines of the TPP negotiations as outlined in previous correspondence.

I have been reliably informed that the department has discretion to produce a list even if a document does not exist and has done so many times previously on other topics. Based on this advice from the FOI section I would like to know the progress of this request.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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Evelyn Doyle left an annotation ()

I have been advised by the department to submit a new FOI request which will be reconsidered by the line area.

I have marked this one as refused and will re-submit with slightly different wording.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade only: