Latest document summarising current state of work on ALRC 112, Secrecy Laws and Open Government in Australia

Peter Timmins made this Freedom of Information request to Attorney-General's Department

The request was partially successful.

From: Peter Timmins

Delivered

Dear Attorney-General's Department,
This is an application for access to the most recent summary of the work undertaken and work still remaining to be completed on the ALRC Report 112, Secrecy Laws and Open Government in Australia, tabled in Parliament on 11 March 2010. For example the relevant extract from the brief prepared for Attorney General Dreyfus on taking office, or similar earlier or later document.

Please treat this as an Administrative Access request, or if this is not possible an application under the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Timmins.

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

Thank you for your email. This is an automated response to advise you that
your email has been received by the Attorney-General's Department's FOI
Coordinator.

 

If you wish to lodge a request for access to documents under the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), please ensure that your request is in
writing, states that it is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
and provides sufficient detail describing the documents you wish to
access. The FOI Coordinator will acknowledge your request within 14 days.

 

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

UNCLASSIFIED
Good afternoon Mr Timmins

The Attorney-General's Department acknowledges your FOI request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) dated 12 May 2013.

Your request will be processed as quickly as possible.

With regards,

AGD FOI & Privacy

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

UNCLASSIFIED
Good morning Mr Timmins

I refer to your FOI request of 12 May 2013 with this Department.

Work on this matter is ongoing and will involve further external consultation. To assist with this process, the Department gratefully requests a 30 day extension of processing time under s15AA of the FOI Act - with a proposed decision due date of 11 July 2013.

I look forward to your decision on this 30 day extension.

With regards,

Logan Tudor
AGD FOI & Privacy

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Peter Timmins left an annotation ()

I'm tempted to say "you have got to be kidding" but will refrain for the moment.

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From: Peter Timmins

Delivered

Dear AGD,
Consultation? Really? Consent to extension of 14 days.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Timmins

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

UNCLASSIFIED
Mr Timmins

I refer to your grant of 14 day extension on 13 June 2013 under s15AA of the FOI Act. Thank you.

With your permission, we gratefully request the full 30 days. Additional processing time is required to complete this matter, one reason being the volume of requests currently on hand.

If granted, the Department will only use the days necessary to complete this matter, which may result in a decision before the 30th day of the proposed 15AA extension (11 July 2013).

I look forward to your decision on this further (and final) 14 day extension.

With regards,

Logan Tudor
AGD FOI & Privacy

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

English! Always it is difficult. But one does not "gratefully request". To be grateful is to be thankful, and the time for gratitude is after your request is agreed to, not before. Before, one is "respectful", "humble", etc; one "respectfully requests", or "humbly requests". And only then, when the request has been received and granted, is it time for gratitude. "The department is most grateful for your agreement to our humble request for additional time".

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From: Peter Timmins

Delivered

Dear FOI Requests,
Sorry about the workload but I'm sticking to the 14 days. This one can't be be complex or complicated. My initial request asked that you deal with it under Administrative Access as it seemed a perfect candidate. Alas...

Yours sincerely,

Peter Timmins

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department


Attachment Notice of Decision AGD FOI matter no.13 052.pdf
1.2M Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED
Mr Timmins

Referring to your FOI request of 12 May 2013 with this Department, the FOI decision maker's determination is attached.

With regards,

AGD FOI & Privacy

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From: Peter Timmins

Delivered

Dear Attorney-General's Department,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Attorney-General's Department's handling of my FOI request 'Latest document summarising current state of work on ALRC 112, Secrecy Laws and Open Government in Australia'.

Your determination cites the deliberative document conditional exemption as the grounds for refusal of access to the only document relevant to my application. This provision only applies to a document that contains advice, opinion or recommendation. The application sought access to the latest summary of work undertaken on the report or outlining work to be undertaken.

The determination makes no reference to the practicality of providing a document containing the requested information with exempt matter deleted.

The public interest considerations cited against disclosure are unusual to say the least and some-for example damage to relations between the public service and the government - appear to have no basis in law.

I could go on, but AGD has plenty of experience with FOI law.

A fresh look at this would be in both our interests.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/la...

Yours faithfully,

Peter Timmins

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department

UNCLASSIFIED
Good afternoon Mr Timmins

I hereby acknowledge your request for Internal Review under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) dated 27 June 2013.

The review will be conducted as quickly as possible.

Kind Regards

Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Office of Corporate Counsel Attorney-General's Department | 3 - 5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600
A: [AGD request email]

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Peter Timmins left an annotation ()

For comment on the decision in this case see
http://www.foi-privacy.blogspot.com.au/2...

Peter Timmins.

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From: FOI Requests
Attorney-General's Department


Attachment Letter to Mr Timmins FOI Request no.FOI13 052 July 2013.pdf
912K Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED
Good Morning Mr Timmins

I refer to your request dated 27 June 2013 for an internal review of your FOI request. Please find attached decision letter of 29 July 2013 in response to your request.

Kind Regards

FOI Contact Officer

Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Office of Corporate Counsel Attorney-General's Department | 3 - 5 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600
Email: [AGD request email]

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Peter Timmins left an annotation ()

An application for review of this decision has been lodged with the Office of Australian Information Commissioner. Peter Timmins.

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Peter Timmins left an annotation ()

Message below received from OAIC 28 August.

(If AGD stick to their word, this sounds like a victory. As to the explanation for close to 18 months since my application......)

Dear Mr Timmins,

I write to advise that, following a case appraisal from the OAIC, the Department has agreed to make a revised decision in relation to your request in line with the appraisal. Our appraisal indicated that the document in issue should be released.

The Department has advised that it will issue a revised decision to you by 5 September 2014.

I will check in with you again once the decision has been issued.

Kind regards,

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Peter Timmins left an annotation ()

The AGD revised decision granted access to the briefing note. The OAIC had concluded that s 47C did not apply to the document. AGD said simply they had decided to release it.

The document is dated 24 August 2012. My request was made on 12 May 2013. After a knockback citing absurd claims about the public interest against disclosure, confirmed on internal review, I sought OAIC review on 30 August 2013. The letter granting access is dated 5 September 2014.

But wait, there's more.

Two attachments were referred to in the document released. I asked AGD to supply them to me. They said the attachments were outside the scope of the request. I said the briefing note without the two attachments was incomplete-the attachments were part of the document summarising work undertaken on the ALRC report.

When I notified the OAIC, they agreed with AGD (without having seen them apparently) that attachments are separate documents, that should I wish to continue my review application they would not take the matter further but I could go to the AAT, application fee $861.

AGD, from the time the OAIC is disbanded is to be the agency responsible for 'guidance' on the FOI act.

In this case they managed to delay disclosure of a document nine months old at the time requested for 16 months. And then claim that attachments that had never been mentioned before the briefing note was released are outside the scope of the request.

Should make for an interesting case study in their 'how to' guide.

Ever felt you have been done over by experts?

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Peter Timmins left an annotation ()

The 2012 briefing note released after all this is here:
https://app.box.com/s/f5d4f113zy14bhqcw183 (pdf)

The OAIC handed down a decision on those attachments this week.
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/A...

Disappointing on a number of fronts.

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Things to do with this request

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