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Local Councils rationale on supporting Palestine

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Dear Sir/Madam,

I am submitting a comprehensive request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 for the disclosure of information concerning the Merri-bek City Council’s discussions and actions on several key matters. Specifically, I am seeking access to:

1. All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, exchanged between executives and councillors discussing the Gaza crisis.
2. Records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to discussions and decisions made by the council regarding the Gaza crisis.
3. All instances of antisemitic comments made by staff, executives, councillors, and residents, with details of the comments and actions taken by the council in response.
4. Correspondence, including extracts from secure chat applications such as WhatsApp, between councillors, the CEO, and executives concerning the Gaza crisis.
5. All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, discussing the decision to raise the Palestinian flag.
6. Records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to the decision-making process and discussions leading to the raising of the Palestinian flag.
7. Any communication between executives, councillors, and staff regarding the logistics, public response, and any associated costs of raising the Palestinian flag.
8. Documents outlining the council’s official stance, policies, or guidelines related to the display of flags, specifically the Palestinian flag.
9. All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, discussing the council’s support for Hamas.
10. Records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to discussions and decisions made by the council regarding support for Hamas.
11. Any documentation outlining the council’s stance or policies on supporting organisations, specifically Hamas.
12. Information related to the awareness and consideration of potential breaches of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and Division 102 in the council’s support for Hamas.
13. All financial records related to security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who voted against the raising of the Palestinian flag.
14. Financials and time allocations related to the council’s support for Hamas, including expenses covered by ratepayers.
15. Records of discussions or decisions made concerning Jewish residents and businesses in the municipality, including any financial implications.

I understand that certain information may be sensitive or confidential, and I request that any redactions be clearly justified in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. If possible, please provide the information in electronic format.

I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to a timely response within the statutory timeframe stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act. Should there be any fees associated with processing this request, please inform me in advance.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Yours sincerely,

Info@Merri-bek,

Thank you for contacting Merri-Bek City Council.    

Your request or report will be sent to the appropriate department for
action.
The time it takes for us to address the issue will vary depending on the
type of request and complexity of the issue.
This email address is not able to provide you with updates to existing
reports. If you would like an update on an existing report or if you have
any questions about the status of your request or report, please give us a
call.

Merri-Bek City Council
www.merri-bek.vic.gov.au
92401111

Merri-Bek City Council is committed to protecting your privacy in
accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic) and the
Health Records Act 2001 (Vic).The personal information you have provided
in this e-mailed request or report is being collected by Moreland City
Council for the purpose of responding to your report or request and may
also be used to update your personal information otherwise held by Council
(for example, contact details including email address, phone number).The
personal information will be disclosed to the appropriate Council
department to enable them to respond to your request or report and may
also be used by Council for related purposes. It will not be disclosed to
any other external party without your consent, unless required or
authorised by law. If the personal information is not provided Council
will be unable to respond to your request or report.  You can gain access
to your personal information you have provided to Merri-Bek City Council
and if you wish to alter it,  please contact Council’s Privacy Officer via
telephone on 9240 1111 or e-mail at [email address]

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

Any personal or sensitive information contained in this e-mail and
attachments must be handled in accordance with the Privacy and Data
Protection Act 2014 (Victoria), the Health Records Act 2001 and the
Privacy Act 1988 (Commonwealth), as applicable. This e-mail, including all
attachments, is confidential. If you are not the intended recipient, any
use, disclosure or copying of this e-mail is unauthorised. If you are not
the intended recipient of this e-mail, please immediately notify Merri-bek
City Council via [1][email address] or telephone (03) 9240 1111
and then delete this e-mail. Any personal comments contained within this
e-mail are those of the sender and do not necessarily represent the views
of Merri-bek City Council. Merri-bek City Council has attempted to make
this e-mail and any attachments free from viruses but cannot provide an
assurance that this e-mail or any attachments are free of viruses and
accepts no liability.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

Dear applicant,
Thank you for submitting your Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Unfortunately, you have not provided us with enough information to validate and process your request. Would you please email us via [email address] and provide us with your name and contact details, or your name and the name and address of the company or incorporated association you represent (if applicable).

Thanking you,

Merri-bek City Council

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

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Dear FOI,

Thank you for the prompt response to our Freedom of Information (FOI) request. We appreciate your attention to this matter.

In light of your request for additional information to validate and process our FOI request, we want to assure you of our full cooperation within the bounds of relevant legislation. While maintaining our preference for anonymity, we are prepared to provide any necessary details that align with the requirements of applicable legislation.

In addition to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth), we would like to draw attention to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), which outlines principles concerning the collection and handling of personal information. We believe that our request aligns with the principles of privacy and data protection outlined in this legislation.

Furthermore, we appreciate your understanding of the importance of maintaining confidentiality, and we trust that collaboration will ensure the processing of our FOI request is in compliance with any relevant federal or local laws and guidelines.

If there are specific legal requirements or questions that need clarification, please feel free to communicate them.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Yours sincerely,

SubNAC

Dear FOI,

See previous response below.

———————————-

Dear FOI,

Thank you for the prompt response to our Freedom of Information (FOI) request. We appreciate your attention to this matter.

In light of your request for additional information to validate and process our FOI request, we want to assure you of our full cooperation within the bounds of relevant legislation. While maintaining our preference for anonymity, we are prepared to provide any necessary details that align with the requirements of applicable legislation.

In addition to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth), we would like to draw attention to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), which outlines principles concerning the collection and handling of personal information. We believe that our request aligns with the principles of privacy and data protection outlined in this legislation.

Furthermore, we appreciate your understanding of the importance of maintaining confidentiality, and we trust that collaboration will ensure the processing of our FOI request is in compliance with any relevant federal or local laws and guidelines.

If there are specific legal requirements or questions that need clarification, please feel free to communicate them.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Yours sincerely,

SubNAC
———————————-

Yours sincerely,

SubNAC

Dear applicant, thank you for your email.

As previously advised, Council does not have enough information to validate and process your request. In accordance with Section 17 of the FOI Act 1982 (VIC), you must pay an application fee of $31.80 to validate your request. Alternatively, you can provide proof of concession for an application fee waiver.

Would you please email us at [email address] with your name and contact details, or with your name, and the name and address of the company/incorporated organisation you represent (if applicable), so that an invoice can be raised for your application fee.

Thanking you

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

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Dear FOI,

Thank you for your swift response. In order to expedite payment, we propose utilising a money order without the inclusion of personal identifiers. Kindly provide the necessary details, including a reference number for tracking purposes.

In consideration of privacy, it’s worth noting Section 11C of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth), which underscores the significance of ensuring applicant anonymity. We appreciate your commitment to complying with relevant legislation and anticipate a smooth processing of our request.

Looking forward to your cooperation.

Yours sincerely,

SubNAC

Dear Moreland City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Moreland City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Local Councils rationale on supporting Palestine'.

It has come to my attention that the response time has been significantly prolonged, leading to suspicions of intentional delay and the potential for tampering with or erasing evidence.

As a concerned member of the community, I value transparency and accountability in governance. The FOI process is essential for ensuring access to information and upholding democratic principles. However, the prolonged delay in responding to my request raises serious questions about the council’s commitment to these principles.

I urge the council to prioritize transparency and promptly provide a thorough response to my FOI request. Any further delays or lack of transparency will only fuel concerns about the integrity of the process and raise doubts about the council’s willingness to comply with legal obligations.

I trust that the council will take this matter seriously and act swiftly to address my concerns.

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

Yours faithfully,

SubNAC

Dear applicant, thank you for your email.

 

As previously advised, Council does not have enough information to
validate and process your request. Merri-bek Council is an agency under
the Victorian Freedom of Information Act 1982, not the Commonwealth
Freedom of Information Act 1982. There are no provisions for an ‘internal
review’ under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (VIC). (FOI Act).

 

In accordance with the FOI Act, Council requires more information to
determine eligibility to under Section 13 - Right of Access, prior to
issuing an invoice.

 

Section 13 is as follows:

 

13 Right of access

Subject to this Act, every person has a legally enforceable right to
obtain access in accordance with this Act to—

(a) a document of an agency, other than an exempt document; or

(b) an official document of a Minister, other than an exempt document.

 

A ‘person’ is defined in section 38 of the Interpretation of Legislation
Act 1984 as follows:

o “person” includes a ‘body politic or corporate as well as an
individual’

 

An “individual” is further defined in section 38 as follows:

o "individual" means a natural person

 

A natural person is commonly taken to refer to an individual human being.
You have provided insufficient information to demonstrate you are applying
as a person or a body politic or corporate, as defined in Section 38 of
the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984, for the purpose of Section 13
of the FOI Act and are therefore ineligible to make a request. I am
inviting you to provide further information and/or documentation in
support of you as a person, body politic or corporate.

 

Would you please email us via [1][email address] and provide us
with your name and contact details, or your name and the name and address
of the company or incorporated organisation that you represent (if
applicable).

 

Please note that in the interests of transparency, Council has published
information regarding its position on the war in Gaza, on its website.
This may provide the information you are seeking without the need for a
formal FOI request. This information can be accessed via the following
links:

 

[2]Outcome from November 8 Council meeting—motion on the War in Gaza
(merri-bek.vic.gov.au)

[3]Council Meeting decision on flying the Palestinian Flag
(merri-bek.vic.gov.au)

[4]Council Statement (merri-bek.vic.gov.au)

[5]Council meeting minutes and past agendas (merri-bek.vic.gov.au)
(November 2023 agenda and minutes)

 

Thanking you

 

FOI Officer

 

 

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as
the Traditional Custodians of the lands and

waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their
Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as

to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life
of the area.

.

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Dear FOI,

Thank you for your prompt response and for clarifying the process further.

I apologise for any confusion regarding the jurisdiction under which the request falls. We appreciate your guidance on this matter. To ensure compliance and expedite the process, we are providing the necessary information for validation.

Name: John Smith
Contact Details: Pascoe vale south

We understand the importance of providing accurate information to facilitate the FOI process and are committed to cooperating fully. Additionally, we acknowledge the links you provided to publicly available information related to the Gaza conflict. While these resources are helpful, our request seeks specific documentation and correspondence that may not be covered in the publicly available materials.

We assure you that we are not automated responders but actual individuals seeking information through the appropriate channels.

Once again, we thank you for your attention to this matter and look forward to a timely response.

Yours sincerely,

SubNAC

Dear FOI,

Why are you not responding?

Yours sincerely,

SubNAC

1 Attachment

Dear John Smith

Thank you for your email. Please find attached an invoice for payment of the Freedom of Information application fee. Payment can be made online, in person or via mail, as detailed in the invoice. Your original request will also need to be clarified under Section 17 of the FOI Act before it can be processed.

The contact details of ‘Pascoe Vale South’ are incomplete. Would you please provide your contact details.

Thanking you

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

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Dear FOI,
Payment has been made
Reference PY2461058

Yours sincerely,

SubNAC

Dear John Smith, thank you for the payment of the FOI Application Fee. I will be in touch with you about your request.

Thanking you

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

show quoted sections

1 Attachment

Dear John Smith, please find attached a letter requesting clarification for your Freedom of Information request.

Thanking you

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

show quoted sections

To Travis,

I refer to your letter dated 29 April 2024, 5 months after my original request, concerning my Freedom of Information (FOI) request. I appreciate your attention to this matter and would like to provide the necessary clarifications to ensure my request is processed efficiently and comprehensively.

Clarifications and Additional Details:

1. Specific Date Range:

To provide a clear timeframe for my request, I specify the period from 7 October 2023 to the present date. This extended period should cover all relevant communications and actions.

2. Definition of ‘Executive’:

My reference to ‘executive’ includes Cathy Henderson (CEO of Merri-bek Council) and the Directors of the four branches who report directly to the CEO. The directors are:

• Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Cathy Henderson
• Director of Business Transformation: Sue Vujcevic
• Director of City Infrastructure: Anita Curnow
• Director of Community: Eamonn Fennessy
• Director of Place and Environment (Acting): Phillip Priest

3. Systems and Platforms:

The search for relevant documents should include all digital and electronic systems utilised by the Council. These systems include but are not limited to:

• Content Manager (formerly TRIM)
• Microsoft Exchange
• Microsoft Teams
• OneDrive
• Network Shares
• CRM Systems (such as Pathway)
• Communication platforms (WhatsApp, iMessage, SMS)
• Any calls or call recordings

Please ensure that all devices (mobiles, computers, etc.) that have logged into any Council accounts (such as Microsoft 365) are included. If these devices have accessed or stored Council information, they fall within the scope of this request.

4. Councillors:

The search should include records involving all current councillors. The Merri-bek City Council consists of:

• North-East Ward:
• Annalivia Carli Hannan
• Adam Pulford
• Sue Bolton
• Helen Pavlidis-Mihalakos
• North-West Ward:
• Oscar Yildiz
• Helen Davidson
• Angelica Panopoulos
• Monica Harte
• South Ward:
• Lambros Tapinos
• Mark Riley
• James Conlan

5. Scope of the Request:

Please ensure that all emails sent directly to councillors, as well as any personal emails or documents created or saved on Council devices, are included. This encompasses all communications related to the specified topics, regardless of the platform used.

6. Specific Items of Interest:

Please ensure that searches cover:

• Correspondence and decisions regarding the Gaza crisis.
• Discussions and decisions related to the raising of the Palestinian flag.
• Any support for Hamas, including potential breaches of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and Division 102.
• Security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who opposed the flag-raising.
• Discussions and decisions concerning Jewish residents and businesses.
• Instances of antisemitic comments made by staff, executives, councillors, and residents, with details of the comments and actions taken by the council in response.
• Financial records related to security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who voted against the raising of the Palestinian flag.
• Financials and time allocations related to the council’s support for Hamas, including expenses covered by ratepayers.

7. Public Disclosure and Support for Palestine:

Given the publicly disclosed support for Palestine and its potential funding and backing by Iran, I request all relevant communications and documents. This is essential for understanding how these align with Council’s policies and actions.

Request for Evidence of Searches:

To ensure transparency, I request evidence of the searches conducted and the criteria used for each system mentioned above. This includes logs or reports generated from the searches to verify the thoroughness and scope of the inquiry.

I trust these clarifications address the issues raised and facilitate a comprehensive search and processing of my FOI request. I look forward to your timely response within the statutory timeframe stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

To Troy,

I refer to your letter dated 29 April 2024, 5 months after my original request, concerning my Freedom of Information (FOI) request. I appreciate your attention to this matter and would like to provide the necessary clarifications to ensure my request is processed efficiently and comprehensively.

Clarifications and Additional Details:

1. Specific Date Range:

To provide a clear timeframe for my request, I specify the period from 7 October 2023 to the present date. This extended period should cover all relevant communications and actions.

2. Definition of ‘Executive’:

My reference to ‘executive’ includes Cathy Henderson (CEO of Merri-bek Council) and the Directors of the four branches who report directly to the CEO. The directors are:

• Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Cathy Henderson
• Director of Business Transformation: Sue Vujcevic
• Director of City Infrastructure: Anita Curnow
• Director of Community: Eamonn Fennessy
• Director of Place and Environment (Acting): Phillip Priest

3. Systems and Platforms:

The search for relevant documents should include all digital and electronic systems utilised by the Council. These systems include but are not limited to:

• Content Manager (formerly TRIM)
• Microsoft Exchange
• Microsoft Teams
• OneDrive
• Network Shares
• CRM Systems (such as Pathway)
• Communication platforms (WhatsApp, iMessage, SMS)
• Any calls or call recordings

Please ensure that all devices (mobiles, computers, etc.) that have logged into any Council accounts (such as Microsoft 365) are included. If these devices have accessed or stored Council information, they fall within the scope of this request.

4. Councillors:

The search should include records involving all current councillors. The Merri-bek City Council consists of:

• North-East Ward:
• Annalivia Carli Hannan
• Adam Pulford
• Sue Bolton
• Helen Pavlidis-Mihalakos
• North-West Ward:
• Oscar Yildiz
• Helen Davidson
• Angelica Panopoulos
• Monica Harte
• South Ward:
• Lambros Tapinos
• Mark Riley
• James Conlan

5. Scope of the Request:

Please ensure that all emails sent directly to councillors, as well as any personal emails or documents created or saved on Council devices, are included. This encompasses all communications related to the specified topics, regardless of the platform used.

6. Specific Items of Interest:

Please ensure that searches cover:

• Correspondence and decisions regarding the Gaza crisis.
• Discussions and decisions related to the raising of the Palestinian flag.
• Any support for Hamas, including potential breaches of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and Division 102.
• Security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who opposed the flag-raising.
• Discussions and decisions concerning Jewish residents and businesses.
• Instances of antisemitic comments made by staff, executives, councillors, and residents, with details of the comments and actions taken by the council in response.
• Financial records related to security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who voted against the raising of the Palestinian flag.
• Financials and time allocations related to the council’s support for Hamas, including expenses covered by ratepayers.

7. Public Disclosure and Support for Palestine:

Given the publicly disclosed support for Palestine and its potential funding and backing by Iran, I request all relevant communications and documents. This is essential for understanding how these align with Council’s policies and actions.

Request for Evidence of Searches:

To ensure transparency, I request evidence of the searches conducted and the criteria used for each system mentioned above. This includes logs or reports generated from the searches to verify the thoroughness and scope of the inquiry.

I trust these clarifications address the issues raised and facilitate a comprehensive search and processing of my FOI request. I look forward to your timely response within the statutory timeframe stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

Hello John, thank you for your response. It is being considered, and we will be in touch with you shortly.

Thanking you

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

show quoted sections

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Freedom of Information Clarification Letter John Smith 19 June 2024 F 583.pdf

    209K Download View as HTML

Hello John Smith, thank you for your response. I apologise for the delay in responding to you. There are some additional points Council needs addressing before your request is deemed valid. Please find attached an additional clarification letter.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Thanking you

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

show quoted sections

Dear Ms. Saskia Hunter,

Thank you for your letter dated 19 June 2024, requesting further clarification on my Freedom of Information (FOI) request, reference F-583. I am providing the necessary details to ensure my request is processed effectively and comprehensively.

1. Specific Date Range

To provide a clear timeframe for my request, I specify the period from 7 October 2023 to the present date. This period should cover all relevant communications and actions up to the day after my request is deemed valid.

2. Definition of ‘Executive’

My reference to ‘executive’ includes:

• Cathy Henderson, CEO of Merri-bek Council
• Sue Vujcevic, Director of Business Transformation
• Anita Curnow, Director of City Infrastructure
• Eamonn Fennessy, Director of Community
• Phillip Priest, Acting Director of Place and Environment from 6 May to 31 May 2024
• Victoria Hart, Acting Director of Place and Environment from 3 June to 24 June 2024
• Joseph Tabacco, Director of Place and Environment up to 3 May 2024
• Yvonne Callanan, Manager Governance and Strategy
• Yvonne Attard, Legal Services Officer

3. Systems and Platforms

The search for relevant documents should include all digital and electronic systems utilised by the Council. These systems include but are not limited to:

• Content Manager (formerly TRIM)
• Microsoft Exchange
• Microsoft Teams
• OneDrive
• Network Shares
• CRM Systems (such as Pathway)
• Communication platforms (WhatsApp, iMessage, SMS)
• SharePoint
• CXone (for call recordings)
• Any other calls or call recordings

Please ensure that all devices (mobiles, computers, etc.) that have logged into any Council accounts (such as Microsoft 365) are included. If these devices have accessed or stored Council information, they fall within the scope of this request. If there are other systems in use, please include them in the search and inform me of their inclusion.

4. Councillors

The search should include records involving all current councillors. The Merri-bek City Council consists of:

• North-East Ward:
• Annalivia Carli Hannan
• Adam Pulford
• Sue Bolton
• Helen Pavlidis-Mihalakos
• North-West Ward:
• Oscar Yildiz
• Helen Davidson
• Angelica Panopoulos
• Monica Harte
• South Ward:
• Lambros Tapinos
• Mark Riley
• James Conlan

5. Scope of the Request

Please ensure that all emails sent directly to councillors, as well as any personal emails or documents created or saved on Council devices, are included. This encompasses all communications related to the specified topics, regardless of the platform used.

6. Specific Items of Interest

Please ensure that searches cover:

• Correspondence and decisions regarding the Gaza crisis.
• Discussions and decisions related to the raising of the Palestinian flag.
• Any support for Hamas, including potential breaches of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and Division 102.
• Security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who opposed the flag-raising.
• Discussions and decisions concerning Jewish residents and businesses.
• Instances of antisemitic comments made by staff, executives, councillors, and residents, with details of the comments and actions taken by the council in response.
• Financial records related to security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who voted against the raising of the Palestinian flag.
• Financials and time allocations related to the council’s support for Hamas, including expenses covered by ratepayers.

7. Public Disclosure and Support for Palestine

Given the publicly disclosed support for Palestine and its potential funding and backing by Iran, I request all relevant communications and documents. This is essential for understanding how these align with Council’s policies and actions.

8. Request for Evidence of Searches

To ensure transparency, I request evidence of the searches conducted and the criteria used for each system mentioned above. This includes logs or reports generated from the searches to verify the thoroughness and scope of the inquiry.

Specific Clarifications Required

1. Further Information for Point 12:
• I am specifically seeking documents related to the council’s awareness and consideration of potential breaches of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and Division 102 regarding the council’s support for Hamas. This includes any internal memos, reports, legal advice, or correspondence discussing potential legal implications or breaches of these provisions.
2. Resolution of Points 2, 6, 8, and 15:
• Regarding the information already provided for points 2, 6, 8, and 15 of my original request, I confirm:
• Point 2 (Council decisions concerning Jewish residents and businesses): The information provided does not fully satisfy my request. I seek additional documents or records of discussions that include financial implications and specific actions taken by the council concerning Jewish residents and businesses.
• Point 6 (Council reports and minutes regarding Gaza and the Palestinian flag): The information provided resolves this part of my request.
• Point 8 (Civic Flag Policy): The additional information provided resolves this part of my request.
• Point 15 (Council decisions concerning Jewish residents and businesses): As noted above, the information provided does not fully resolve this part of my request.
3. Security Measures for Protection:
• The mention of “security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who opposed the flag raising” is not a new point but rather a clarification and expansion of point 13 from my original request. This point specifically seeks all financial records and measures implemented for the protection of those who opposed the flag-raising.
4. Public Disclosure and Support for Palestine:
• The request for all relevant communications and documents related to the publicly disclosed support for Palestine and its potential funding and backing by Iran is indeed a new point. This new point seeks to understand how these actions align with Council’s policies and actions, including any correspondence, reports, or internal discussions.

Potential Intentional Delays

I am concerned that the delays in processing my FOI request might be intentional to avoid disclosing information, especially if data is not being properly backed up or is being withheld. This undermines the transparency required under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) and obstructs the public’s right to information. Additionally, any undue delay may constitute a breach of the Victorian Public Sector (VPS) Code of Conduct, which mandates timely and responsive handling of public requests and upholding transparency and accountability. Moreover, such conduct may contravene the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic), which requires proper maintenance and accessibility of public records.

OVIC Complaint

I have filed a complaint with the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) regarding the delays and handling of my FOI request. OVIC has acknowledged my complaint and is making preliminary inquiries (Reference: subNAC). Specifically, OVIC is investigating whether the agency has failed to comply with FOI Professional Standard 2.4, which requires timely notification regarding the validity of FOI requests.

Request for Edited Copies

In accordance with section 25 of the FOI Act, I confirm that I wish to receive edited copies of documents that contain exempt material, with the exempt portions removed.

No Grounds for Further Delays

Given the detailed clarifications provided and the comprehensive scope outlined in this letter, there are no grounds for any further delays in processing my FOI request. The council is legally obligated to provide the requested information, and any claims of insufficient resources or excessive costs will not be considered valid reasons for non-compliance. Should any further delays occur, I will escalate this matter to the highest legal level, including the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or seeking judicial review in the Supreme Court of Victoria, to ensure full compliance with the FOI Act and to protect the public’s right to access information. Additionally, any further attempts to delay or obstruct this request may be considered a breach of the VPS Code of Conduct, the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic), and other relevant legislative obligations, and may result in legal action.

Deadline for Compliance

I expect a full response to this FOI request, including the provision of all requested documents, by no later than 21 days from the date of this letter. Failure to comply within this timeframe will result in immediate escalation to the appropriate legal authorities.

I trust these clarifications address the issues raised and facilitate a comprehensive search and processing of my FOI request. I look forward to your timely response within the statutory timeframe stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act.

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

Hello John Smith, thank you for clarifying your request. Council is currently searching for the documents.

Would you please confirm if Council's understanding of your request below is correct? If our understanding is incorrect, would you please clarify.

Thanking you

Timeframe:

7 October 2023 to 20 June 2024

Officer search:

Cathy Henderson, CEO of Merri-bek Council
Sue Vujcevic, Director of Business Transformation
Anita Curnow, Director of City Infrastructure
Eamonn Fennessy, Director of Community
Phillip Priest, Acting Director of Place and Environment from 6 May to 31 May 2024
Victoria Hart, Acting Director of Place and Environment from 3 June to 24 June 2024
Joseph Tabacco, Director of Place and Environment up to 3 May 2024
Yvonne Callanan, Manager Governance and Strategy
Yvonne Attard, Legal Services Officer

Councillor Search:

North-East Ward:
Annalivia Carli Hannan
Adam Pulford
Sue Bolton
Helen Pavlidis-Mihalakos

North-West Ward:
Oscar Yildiz
Helen Davidson
Angelica Panopoulos
Monica Harte

South Ward:
Lambros Tapinos
Mark Riley
James Conlan

Platforms:
Content Manager (formerly TRIM)
Microsoft Exchange
Microsoft Teams
OneDrive
Network Shares
CRM Systems (such as Pathway)
Communication platforms (WhatsApp, iMessage, SMS)
SharePoint
CXone (for call recordings)
Any other calls or call recordings

Point Request
1 All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, exchanged between executives and councillors discussing the Gaza crisis

2 Records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to discussions and decisions made by the council regarding the Gaza crisis.
I seek additional documents or records of discussions that include financial implications and specific actions taken by the council concerning Jewish residents and businesses.

3 All instances of antisemitic comments made by staff, executives, councillors, and residents, with details of the comments and actions taken by the council in response

4 Correspondence, including extracts from secure chat applications such as WhatsApp, between councillors, the CEO, and executives concerning the Gaza crisis.

5 All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, discussing the decision to raise the Palestinian flag

6 Records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to the decision-making process and discussions leading to the raising of the Palestinian flag
(resolved outside of the act)

7 Any communication between executives, councillors, and staff regarding the logistics, public response, and any associated costs of raising the Palestinian flag

8 Documents outlining the council’s official stance, policies, or guidelines related to the display of flags, specifically the Palestinian flag
(resolved outside of the act)

9 All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, discussing the council’s support for Hamas.

10 Records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to discussions and decisions made by the council regarding support for Hamas.

11 Any documentation outlining the council’s stance or policies on supporting organisations, specifically Hamas

12 I am specifically seeking documents related to the council’s awareness and consideration of potential breaches of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and Division 102 regarding the council’s support for Hamas. This includes any internal memos, reports, legal advice, or correspondence discussing potential legal implications or breaches of these provisions

13 All financial records related to security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who voted against the raising of the Palestinian flag.

14 Financials and time allocations related to the council’s support for Hamas, including expenses covered by ratepayers

15 Records of discussions or decisions made concerning Jewish residents and businesses in the municipality, including any financial implications.
I seek additional documents or records of discussions that include financial implications and specific actions taken by the council concerning Jewish residents and businesses.

16 All relevant communications and documents related to the publicly disclosed support for Palestine and its potential funding and backing by Iran

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

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Dear ?,

Thank you for your prompt response and for initiating the search for the requested documents. To ensure absolute clarity and prevent any potential misunderstandings, I am providing the necessary confirmations and additional clarifications:

1. Timeframe:

• Council’s Understanding: 7 October 2023 to 20 June 2024.
• Clarification: The requested timeframe should extend from 7 October 2023 to the present date or until the date when the documents are provided. Fixing the end date at 20 June 2024 is not acceptable as it may exclude relevant documents generated after this date.

2. Officer Search:
The list of officers provided matches my request:

• Cathy Henderson, CEO of Merri-bek Council
• Sue Vujcevic, Director of Business Transformation
• Anita Curnow, Director of City Infrastructure
• Eamonn Fennessy, Director of Community
• Phillip Priest, Acting Director of Place and Environment from 6 May to 31 May 2024
• Victoria Hart, Acting Director of Place and Environment from 3 June to 24 June 2024
• Joseph Tabacco, Director of Place and Environment up to 3 May 2024
• Yvonne Callanan, Manager Governance and Strategy
• Yvonne Attard, Legal Services Officer

3. Councillor Search:
The list of councillors provided matches my request:

• North-East Ward:
• Annalivia Carli Hannan
• Adam Pulford
• Sue Bolton
• Helen Pavlidis-Mihalakos
• North-West Ward:
• Oscar Yildiz
• Helen Davidson
• Angelica Panopoulos
• Monica Harte
• South Ward:
• Lambros Tapinos
• Mark Riley
• James Conlan

4. Platforms:
The platforms listed match my request, including all digital and electronic systems utilised by the Council:

• Content Manager (formerly TRIM)
• Microsoft Exchange
• Microsoft Teams
• OneDrive
• Network Shares
• CRM Systems (such as Pathway)
• Communication platforms (WhatsApp, iMessage, SMS)
• SharePoint
• CXone (for call recordings)
• Any other calls or call recordings
• Microsoft 365
• Any document management systems active, including those with third-party providers like Grace
• Backups of information not in the live environment
• Data from personal devices that have been used to access council accounts or information

5. Point Request:
Your understanding of the specific points is largely correct with the following clarifications:

• Point 1: All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, exchanged between executives and councillors discussing the Gaza crisis.
• Point 2: In addition to records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to discussions and decisions made by the council regarding the Gaza crisis, please include documents or records of discussions that include financial implications and specific actions taken by the council concerning Jewish residents and businesses.
• Point 3: All instances of antisemitic comments made by staff, executives, councillors, and residents, with details of the comments and actions taken by the council in response.
• Point 4: Correspondence, including extracts from secure chat applications such as WhatsApp, between councillors, the CEO, and executives concerning the Gaza crisis.
• Point 5: All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, discussing the decision to raise the Palestinian flag.
• Point 6: Ensure that all records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to the decision-making process and discussions leading to the raising of the Palestinian flag are provided. If this point is fully resolved outside the act, please confirm no further documents are needed.
• Point 7: Any communication between executives, councillors, and staff regarding the logistics, public response, and any associated costs of raising the Palestinian flag.
• Point 8: Ensure all documents outlining the council’s official stance, policies, or guidelines related to the display of flags, specifically the Palestinian flag, are provided. If this point is fully resolved outside the act, please confirm no further documents are needed.
• Point 9: All correspondence, including emails, letters, and memoranda, discussing the council’s support for Hamas.
• Point 10: Records of meetings, minutes, or reports related to discussions and decisions made by the council regarding support for Hamas.
• Point 11: Any documentation outlining the council’s stance or policies on supporting organisations, specifically Hamas.
• Point 12: Documents related to the council’s awareness and consideration of potential breaches of the Criminal Code Act 1995 and Division 102 regarding the council’s support for Hamas. This includes any internal memos, reports, legal advice, or correspondence discussing potential legal implications or breaches of these provisions.
• Point 13: All financial records related to security measures for the protection of staff and councillors who voted against the raising of the Palestinian flag.
• Point 14: Financials and time allocations related to the council’s support for Hamas, including expenses covered by ratepayers.
• Point 15: Records of discussions or decisions made concerning Jewish residents and businesses in the municipality, including any financial implications. Please ensure additional documents or records of discussions that include financial implications and specific actions taken by the council concerning Jewish residents and businesses are provided.
• Point 16: All relevant communications and documents related to the publicly disclosed support for Palestine and its potential funding and backing by Iran.

Potential Intentional Delays:
I remain concerned that delays in processing my FOI request might be intentional to avoid disclosing information, especially if data is not being properly backed up or is being withheld. This undermines the transparency required under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic) and obstructs the public’s right to information. Additionally, any undue delay may constitute a breach of the Victorian Public Sector (VPS) Code of Conduct, which mandates timely and responsive handling of public requests and upholding transparency and accountability. Moreover, such conduct may contravene the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic), which requires proper maintenance and accessibility of public records.

OVIC Complaint:
I have filed a complaint with the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) regarding the delays and handling of my FOI request. OVIC has acknowledged my complaint and is making preliminary inquiries (Reference: subNAC). Specifically, OVIC is investigating whether the agency has failed to comply with FOI Professional Standard 2.4, which requires timely notification regarding the validity of FOI requests.

Request for Edited Copies:
In accordance with section 25 of the FOI Act, I confirm that I wish to receive edited copies of documents that contain exempt material, with the exempt portions removed.

No Grounds for Further Delays:
Given the detailed clarifications provided and the comprehensive scope outlined in this letter, there are no grounds for any further delays in processing my FOI request. The council is legally obligated to provide the requested information, and any claims of insufficient resources or excessive costs will not be considered valid reasons for non-compliance. Should any further delays occur, I will escalate this matter to the highest legal level, including the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or seeking judicial review in the Supreme Court of Victoria, to ensure full compliance with the FOI Act and to protect the public’s right to access information. Additionally, any further attempts to delay or obstruct this request may be considered a breach of the VPS Code of Conduct, the Public Records Act 1973 (Vic), and other relevant legislative obligations, and may result in legal action.

Deadline for Compliance:
I expect a full response to this FOI request, including the provision of all requested documents, by no later than 21 days from the date of this letter. Failure to comply within this timeframe will result in immediate escalation to the appropriate legal authorities.

I trust these clarifications address the issues raised and facilitate a comprehensive search and processing of my FOI request. I look forward to your timely response within the statutory timeframe stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act.

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours sincerely,

John Smith

Dear John Smith, thank you for your reply and for providing further confirmations and additional clarifications. Council is currently considering your clarified response and will be in touch with you shortly.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanking you
FOI Officer

Merri-bek City Council acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and
waterways in the area now known as Merri-bek. We pay respect to their Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as
to all First Nations communities who significantly contribute to the life of the area.

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