Naval Record Keeping

Brother Ian made this Freedom of Information request to Prime Minister

Waiting for an internal review by Prime Minister of their handling of this request.

From: Brother Ian

Delivered

Dear Prime Minister,

I would like to know under the FOI act where ex RAN sailors outstanding money is.

Yours faithfully,

R110622 - Able Seaman EMC 1st class 1973

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From: FOI
Prime Minister

Please Note that the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will be
closed during it's annual shutdown period from close of business 24
December through to 4 January.

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From: FOI
Prime Minister

UNCLASSIFIED
Dear Mr Brother,

Section 11(1)(a) of the FOI Act provides a right to obtain access to a document of any agency, other than an exempt document. This means the FOI Act relates to documents in the possession of an agency. As you are seeking answers to questions your request is not considered to be a valid FOI request.

Should you wish to make a request under the FOI Act please revise your request to seek specific documents. As you request is not valid your request has not been processed.

Kind regards, Debbie

Debbie | Senior FOI Adviser
Access and Administrative Review Section | Honours, Symbols and Legal Policy Branch Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet p. 02 6271 5849 |e. [email address] www.dpmc.gov.au | www.indigenous.gov.au PO Box 6500 CANBERRA  ACT  2600

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From: Brother Ian

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I thank you most sincerely for your reply. I apologise if my question was in way, shape or form irrelevant or inappropriate to my request for information. It seems I will have to try elsewhere. I am unfamiliar with your required protocols even after study and have no desire to be deemed vexatious. The RAN destroyed documents copies of which should exist in at least digital form or on microfiche prior to their destruction in December 2000, particularly money due to ex-sailors after their years of service.
I can access Her Majesty's Royal Navy Officers Service Records from 1756-1931 online and I thought it a simple matter to do the same here in Australia. It is Her Majesty's Royal Australian Navy is it not? Perhaps you can recommend the right people to approach. To date, I've asked:

Navy MLO ("We're investigating"+ four scraps of paper with my name on them, some information written in pencil)
Chief Of Navy - Rear Admiral Tim Barrett
Minister of Defence
Department Of Defence (Many various internal departments)
A Current Affair - Channel 9
MP Adelaide Kate Ellis
MP Atkinson Croydon
Department of Veteran Affairs (several departments)
Returned Servicemen's League
Journalists
So please believe that I did not take the step of asking the Prime Minister first lightly.
Many of the people that the RAN owes money to are deceased. I am not, but close to it.
I thought it prudent to enquire on behalf of 142 ex sailors that might need money from a Grateful Natuon.

Yours sincerely,

Brother Ian R110622

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From: FOI
Prime Minister

UNCLASSIFIED
Dear Brother Ian

As your request relates more closely to the function of the Department of Defence I recommend you lodge your request with their Freedom of Information team.

Kind regards, Debbie

Debbie | Senior FOI Adviser
Access and Administrative Review Section | Honours, Symbols and Legal Policy Branch Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet p. 02 6271 5849 |e. [email address] www.dpmc.gov.au | www.indigenous.gov.au PO Box 6500 CANBERRA  ACT  2600

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From: Brother Ian

Delivered

Dear FOI,

In Software Engineering this is called an "infinite loop".
Dept. Defence refer me to FOI who refer me to you who tell me to go back to Dept Defence who again tell me to go to.you, etc.

I have been advised on multiple occasions that Service Records were destroyed in December 2000. Yet the authority to do so is dated April 2003.

Naval Record Keeping is most certainly a problem if paperwork has to be generated AFTER the fact. Regarding any outstanding moneys for Service Members, I would shudder to think that someone would think "Burn it or Bank it"?

The 98 page "Authority" appears to be a hastily put together document, mostly cut/pasted and on most pages, the word PAY (along with other areas) is quoted as being recorded items.

So yes, Naval Record Keeping is most certainly a problem and the Prime Minister needs to be informed fully.

Yours sincerely,

Brother Ian

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From: Brother Ian

Delivered

Dear FOI,

The response to my request has been delayed. By law, the Prime Minister should normally have responded prompty and by January 18 2016.
The FOI message I received quotes:

"Right To Know will email you if you don't get a timely response. You can then send the public authority a message to remind them, and tell them if they are breaking the law."

I offer the following as a point of clarification:

The RAN destroyed the Service Records of thousands of men and women who gave years of service to Australia. I have been advised on multiple occasions that they were destroyed in December 2000. This is in fact incorrect. The written official authority to do so was only granted in April 2003. (Page 5 of the authority). This "Authority" appears to be an hastily created afterthought. Subsequently, there is no documentation now existing to prove that I and thousands of othes of ex personnel ever existed or were even paid. This definitely falls under the heading of extremely poor "Nanal Record Keeping".

Referring me to Dept. Defence is useless. They refer me to back to FOI who refer to Dept. Defence who tell me back to FOI etc. Another endless loop where no one cares.

So the ball is still in the PM's court and remains unresolved.

Yours sincerely,

Brother Ian

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

Brother Ian, I can understand your frustration, but your latest email is misconceived. You have already received the response required by law and it was not what you wanted.

A valid application under thet FOI ACt of the Commonwealth of Australia must identify a document to which the applicant wants access. Your request asked what happened to some money but it does not identify a document and it does not provide enough information to an officer of the department to be able to identify a particular document. If you do not make a valid FOI request, then you do not get all the rights the the FOI Act bestows on an applicant.

You wrote on 19 December. The agency replied on 21 December to tell you that the purported application was not a valid application under the FOI Act. That response met all the legal requirements that the agency had to meet.

You can continue to make inquiries but your only available next step is to ask for a review. There is probably nothing of value to be obtained by making a request for an internal review, so you would have to apply to the FOI Commissioner to review the application. If the FOI Commissioner agreed with you, then the only thing that that decision would do is to tell the agency that the request was valid and that they must process it. This is all not very useful.

It would be more useful if you can describe the document or documents that you want. You should describe then better than to say "documents that show where the money went" May be you could identify them by some key words that the agency can search for.

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From: Brother Ian

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I received a notification from RightToKnow:

"Prime Minister are long overdue.

They have not replied to your FOI request Naval Record Keeping,
as required by law.

Click on the link below to send a message to Prime Minister telling them to reply to your request. You might like to ask for an internal
review, asking them to find out why response to the request has been so slow."

(Link omitted)
I have therefore asked for an internal review as advised by RightToKnow
Please advise what I have to do.

Yours sincerely,

Brother Ian

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From: Brother Ian

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Been there, done that. What now?

I have 2 reasonably polite go to hell letters from an Admiral and another from an "Assistant" Minister of Defence. All of which do not answer my questions.

The so called record disposal authority that allowed defence personnel records to be destroyed in December 2000 was only granted after the fact. The authority is dated April 2003.

This therefore smacks of "Oops" or possible fraud to an Australian like myself. Now, if you read the "Authority" as I have, you would probably realise that most of it is cut/paste nonsense. You provided me with the document, for which I thank you.

The fact remains that millions of dollars owed to ex Naval personnel cannot be accounted for.

I reluctantly approached the Prime Minister as a last resort on this matter. I was informed that he/she was 28 days overdue with a response on this issue.

So, if this is not a problem with Naval Record keeping, I don't know what is.

Yours sincerely,

Brother Ian

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