Palestinian Authority upgrade to UN non-member status, 2012

Aidan Archer 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: Aidan Archer

Delivered

Dear Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act (1982) for all documents, reports and emails etc. during the calendar year 2012 relating to the bid by the Palestinian Authority to upgrade it's UN status from observer to non-member status.

Yours faithfully,

Aidan Archer

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Mr Archer

I refer to the FOI request you have lodged with DFAT regarding documents connected with the Palestinian Authority.

At present, the scope of the request is too large for processing under the FOI Act (section 24), so we will need to work together to establish a manageable scope or way of approaching the request – broad suggestions could include narrowing the types of documents you are seeking or the timeframe in which you are seeking them.

Below I have provided the required formal notice of intention to refuse the requests. However, the basic point of the below formal notice is to create a ‘consultation period’ over the next 14 days in which we can speak together to establish a scope which will not attract the ‘practical refusal’ mechanisms under the FOI Act.

My contact details are below – I suggest it would be best for us to speak by phone in the first instance, and I am available on 02 6261 2948.

The formal notice I am required to send you is as follows:
_____________________________________

Section 24 – Power to refuse request

In relation to documents which fall under the scope of your FOI request, I advise as follows. As currently framed, your request would require searching of an excessive number of files of the Government. It would require extracting an excessive number of documents and would require excessive resources to be allocated to decision-making regarding what can and cannot legally be released from those documents under FOI.

Accordingly, I give notice of my intention to refuse your FOI request on the grounds of section 24AA of the FOI Act. The basis for this intention to refuse your request is that it would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the Department from its other operations.

Formal notice of intention to refuse access:

I advise that a practical refusal reason exists in relation to your FOI request as currently framed, within the meaning of s24 of the FOI Act. In line with the requirements of the FOI Act, s24AA(2), in forming the view that the work involved would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of DFAT from its other operations, DFAT has had regard to the resources that would have to be used for:

(a) identifying, locating or collating the documents within the filing system of the agency

- given the vast number of documents created which relate to this subject, the resources that would have to be used for this would be more than the maximum resources which DFAT can allocate to an FOI request.

(b) making a copy, or an edited copy, of the document

- given the vast number of documents, preparing edited copies could be expected to require the allocation of more than the maximum resources which DFAT can allocate to these components of an FOI request.

(c) notifying any interim or final decision on the request

- the main obstacle which triggers the practical refusal reason in this case is the locating and making of edited copies following decision-making on relevant documents. It is not clear whether the resources required for notifying an interim or final decision would be unreasonable.

In accordance with s24AB(2) of the FOI Act, I therefore give written notice that:

(a) DFAT intends to refuse access to the documents you have requested.

(b) the applicable practical refusal reason is as outlined above, that processing the request would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of DFAT.

(c) the name and contact details of the officer of DFAT with whom you may consult during the “consultation period” is David Yardley, [email address], +61 2 6261 2948.

(d) the consultation period during which you may consult with me is the coming 14 days, from 4 December until 18 December 2012.

Please note that the above notice does not constitute a decision to refuse your request, it is merely a notice of the intention to refuse. Should a decision to actually refuse your request be taken (on 19 December 2012), you would have the ability to appeal that decision and details of how to do so would be provided to you at that time.

For your information, section 24 of the FOI Act can be viewed via http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/c...

I invite you to make contact at your convenience so that we can commence discussions about a targeted scope for the request which would provide you with information you are seeking.

Kind regards

David Yardley

Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
International Organisations and Legal Division

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

+61 2 6261 2948

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Mr Archer

Thank you for our useful conversation regarding your FOI request. As discussed, I will come back to you with a suggested idea for scoping of your request once I have had the opportunity to discuss the matter with the relevant area.

In the meantime however, can I ask if you would consent to a 30-day extension for the processing of the request, under s15AA of the FOI Act? As the process of establishing a manageable scope for this request has consumed a significant amount of available time, it would be greatly appreciated if you could agree to more time for us to finalise the matter.

If it would be useful to discuss, please call me on 02 6261 2948 or at this email address.

Kind regards

David Yardley

Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
International Organisations and Legal Division

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

+61 2 6261 2948

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From: Aidan Archer

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I do consent to a 30 day extension to re-scope the information request.

Yours sincerely,

Aidan Archer

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Thank you Mr Archer

Kind regards

David Yardley

Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
International Organisations and Legal Division

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

+61 2 6261 2948

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Mr Archer,

Further to your discussions with Mr Yardley concerning the potential to re-scope your FOI request, we have consulted with the relevant line area and have, as promised, some suggestions which aim to reflect your targeted interest with regard to this issue and would substantially reduce the charges to you associated with processing the request.

You may wish to consider re-scoping your request along the following lines:

All ministerial submissions (and, if needed, emails and/or briefings to Senior Executive) during the calendar year 2012 which include analysis or discussion of the bid by the Palestinian Authority to upgrade its UN status from observer to non-member status.

Please advise us if you would be happy to pursue the revised scope outlined above. In line with s29(f)(iii) of the FOI Act, if you would like to pursue this revised scope, will the original request will be taken to be withdrawn and we will proceed with the above as a fresh request.

Please let me know if it would be useful to discuss any aspect further (Mr Yardley is currently on leave).

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
a/g Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: Aidan Archer

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I would like to re-scope my request as you suggested to,

All ministerial submissions (and, if needed, emails and/or briefings to Senior Executive) during the calendar year 2012 which include analysis or discussion of the bid by the Palestinian Authority to upgrade its UN status from observer to non-member status.

Yours sincerely,

Aidan Archer

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Our Ref: 1301-F483

Dear Mr Archer

Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

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

All ministerial submissions (and, if needed, emails and/or
briefings to Senior Executive) during the calendar year 2012 which
include analysis or discussion of the bid by the Palestinian
Authority to upgrade its UN status from observer to non-member
status.

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.

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.

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned, the case officer, on (02) 6261 3470 or by return email.
Please note a copy of this email has been sent to Ms Stephanie Allan, acting Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section, Domestic Legal Branch for her information.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment 1301 F483 Signed Charges Letter.pdf
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Our Ref: 1301-F483

Dear Mr Archer

Please find attached correspondence regarding your FOI request.

Kind regards

Ruth Hill
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Ph: 6261 2358 Fax: 6261 2144
Part-time: Tues - Thurs

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Brendan Molloy left an annotation ()

I would recommend that you now request that any processing or release costs be waived as the information is of public interest.

This usually works. Consider putting it in all further requests from the beginning too. :)

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From: Aidan Archer

Delivered

Dear FOI,

I would like the costs of this FOI (Specific documents re:'Palestinian Authority upgrade to UN non-member status, 2012' ) request to be waived given that the matter is of public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Aidan Archer

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment img 222144231.pdf
96K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Archer,

Please find attached the response to your waiver request.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
a/g Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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Brendan Molloy left an annotation ()

Oh wow, they used a semantic argument. Lawyers.

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From: Scott, John
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Mr Archer
 
We note that we have not received your response to Ms Cheung’s letter of
22 February 2013 or advice in respect of the payment of the charges levied
to process your request. Accordingly we have concluded that you do not
wish to proceed with your request as it is currently expressed and it has
therefore been withdrawn in accordance with s.29(2) provisions of the FOI
Act.
 
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
 
 
 

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade only: