Periodic disclosures database

Simon made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Electoral Commission

The request was partially successful.

From: Simon

Delivered

Dear Australian Electoral Commission,

I write seeking access to a complete copy of the periodic disclosures database which stores the data displayed on http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au.

Please supply the data in an appropriate machine readable format, for example, SQL or CSV.

The data should include all tables and columns which make up the database.

Please initially treat this as a request for administrative access. If the request cannot be fulfilled under administrative access please treat this as a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act.

I also note the onus rests with the agency to prove why any information should not be released under the Act and I request the agency provide evidence in support of any assumptions or assertions used to justify non-disclosure.

Yours faithfully,

Simon

Link to this

Australian Electoral Commission

Thank you for contacting us.

This is an automatic response from the Australian Electoral Commission to confirm we have received your email.

For more information on enrolling to vote, federal elections or the AEC, visit www.aec.gov.au.

Please do not respond to this email.

Link to this

From: Owen Jones
Australian Electoral Commission


Attachment image001.gif
4K Download

Attachment image003.gif
0K Download

Attachment image005.png
30K Download

Attachment image006.png
0K Download


Dear Simon

I refer to your email of 7 February 2017 4:28 PM to the Australian
Electoral Commission (‘AEC’) in which you request (your ‘FOI Request’)
access under the [1]Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the ‘FOI Act’)
access to information about the the periodic disclosures database.

2                    I am writing today to acknowledge receipt of your
email and to give you a decision about access to documents that you
requested in your FOI Request.

Summary

3                    I, Owen Jones, Senior Lawyer of the AEC, am an
officer authorised under section 23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in
relation to FOI requests.

4                    Specifically you sought access to:

a complete copy of the periodic disclosures database which stores the data
displayed on [2]http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au including all tables
and columns that make up the database provided in an appropriate machine
readable format, for example, SQL or CSV.

5                    The relevant business area of the AEC has decided
that it is not appropriate to give you administrative access to the
documents. Accordingly I have considered your FOI Request under Part III
of the FOI Act.

6                    I identified one document that fell within the scope
of your request, namely the AEC’s database called the Annual Returns
Locator Service.

7                    I did this by visiting the uniform resource locator
(‘URL”) specified in your FOI Request, namely
[3]http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au.

8                    The schedule of relevant documents (‘Attachment A’
below) provides a description of the document that falls within the scope
of your request and the access decision for that document.

9                    With regard to the document that you requested (set
out in Attachment A), I have decided to refuse access to Document No. 1.

10                 More information, including my reasons for my decision,
is set out below.

Decision and reasons for decision

Decision

11                 I found that for the purposes of paragraph (d) of the
definition of ‘document’ provided by subsection 4(1) of the FOI Act that
Document No. 1 has been published for reference with the consequence that
this document is not included in the scope of that which may be requested
as a document under subsection 15(2) of the FOI Act in an FOI Request.

12                 In accordance with my finding in paragraph 13, I have
decided to refuse access to Document No. 1.

Material taken into account

13                 I have taken the following material into account in
making my decision:

(a)        the content of the documents that fall within the scope of the
FOI Request;

(b)        the FOI Act, specifically sections 4 and 24;

(c)        the guidelines (‘[4]FOI Guidelines’] issued by the Australian
Information Commissioner under section 93A of the FOI Act, specifically
paragraphs 2.29 – 2.44, 3.96 –3.106 and 3.180;

Reasons

14                 Attachment A indicates each document to which access is
refused. My reasons for refusing access are given below.

15                 When processing your FOI Request I have treated
Document No. 1 as including the copies of the original returns, as
submitted, that are identifiable and retrievable from the Service in the
form of Adobe Acrobat PDF files. To have processed each return separately
would have been an inappropriate diversion of resources without changing
the outcome.

16                 In this regard I also took into account that you are
able to identify and retrieve each copy of an original return for yourself
using the facility provided by Document No. 1.

17                 I also took into account that a practical refusal
consultation for the purposes of paragraph 24(1)(b) of the FOI Act is
inappropriate in respect of a class of documents that is outside the scope
of that which may be requested as a document under Part III of the FOI
Act.

18                 The AEC is not required to create a new document to
satisfy your FOI Request. However, as I have decided that your request is
out of scope of that which may be requested as a document under Part III
of the FOI Act, this did not arise as a consideration.

Documents out of Scope of an FOI Request

19                 Section 15 of the FOI Act enables a person to seek
access, among other things, to a document of an agency. The AEC is an
agency for the purposes of the FOI Act.

20                 In so far as is material subsection 15(1) of the FOI
Act provides:

15  Requests for access

Persons may request access

(1)     Subject to section 15A, a person who wishes to obtain access to a
document of an agency or an official document of a Minister may request
access to the document.

21                 Section 15A of the FOI Act makes provision with respect
to requests for access to personnel records and has no relevance to the
FOI Request.

22                 The expression ‘document of an agency’ is defined by
subsection 4(1) of the FOI Act and depends on the definition given by that
subsection to the word ‘document’.

23                 In so far as is material, subsection 4(1) of the FOI
Act provides:

4  Interpretation

(1)     In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears:

document of an agency: a document is a document of an agency if:

(a)     the document is in the possession of the agency, whether created
in the agency or received in the agency; or

(b)     in order to comply with section 6C, the agency has taken
contractual measures to ensure that it receives the document.

document includes:

(a)     any of, or any part of any of, the following things:

(i)      any paper or other material on which there is writing;

(ii)     a map, plan, drawing or photograph;

(iii)     any paper or other material on which there are marks, figures,
symbols or perforations having a meaning for persons qualified to
interpret them;

(iv)    any article or material from which sounds, images or writings are
capable of being reproduced with or without the aid of any other article
or device;

(v)     any article on which information has been stored or recorded,
either mechanically or electronically;

(vi)    any other record of information; or

(b)     any copy, reproduction or duplicate of such a thing; or

(c)     any part of such a copy, reproduction or duplicate;

but does not include:

(d)     material maintained for reference purposes that is otherwise
publicly available; or

(e)     Cabinet notebooks.

24                 Document No. 1 is material maintained for reference
purposes by the AEC that is otherwise publicly available at
[5]http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au.

25                 It follows that the carve out in paragraph (d) of the
definition of ‘document’ provided by subsection 4(1) of the FOI Act
applies to Document No. 1  with the outcome that Document No. 1 is not
included in the expression ‘document of an agency’ and thus cannot be
requested under subsection 15(1) of the FOI Act.

26                 For this reason, I refused access to Document No. 1

Your review rights

27                 If you are dissatisfied with my decision, you may apply
for internal review or Information Commissioner review of the decision. We
encourage you to seek internal review as a first step as it may provide a
more rapid resolution of your concerns.

Internal review

28                 Under section 54 of the FOI Act, you may apply in
writing to the AEC for an internal review of my decision. The internal
review application must be made within 30 days of the date of this letter.

29                 Where possible please attach reasons why you believe
review of the decision is necessary. The internal review will be carried
out by another officer within 30 days.

Information Commissioner review

30                 Under section 54L of the FOI Act, you may apply to the
Australian Information Commissioner to review my decision. An application
for review by the Information Commissioner must be made in writing within
60 days of the date of this letter, and be lodged in one of the following
ways:

online:                             
[6]https://forms.business.gov.au/aba/oaic/f...

email:                     [7][email address]

post:                      GPO Box 52189, Sydney NSW 2001

in person:               Level 3, 175 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW

31                 More information about Information Commissioner review
is available on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
website. Go to [8]www.oaic.gov.au/freedom-of-information/foi-reviews.

Questions about this decision

32                 If you wish to discuss this decision, please contact me
at:

email:                     [9][email address]

fax:                        02 6293 7657

post:                      Locked bag 4007, Canberra ACT 2601

Regards

Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal and Procurement Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

[10]Australian Electoral Commission logo [11]Australian Electoral
Commission

This email may contain legal advice that is subject to legal professional
privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of that
privilege. The Australian Electoral Commission’s Chief Legal Officer
should be consulted prior to any decision to disclose the existence or
content of any advice contained in this email to a third party.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Attachement A

1              Annual Returns Locator Service (the ‘Service’) being a  
database of records that have been entered from the
original Annual Returns lodged with the AEC including
copies of the original returns, as submitted, that are
identifiable and retrievable from the Service in the form
of Adobe Acrobat PDF files.
1                Recommendation/decision

1.1          Document No. 1 is published by the AEC for reference
online at [12]http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/.

1.2          Document No. 1 is out of scope of that which may be
requested as a document under section 15 of the FOI Act.

1.3          I have decided to refuse access to Document No. 1

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Simon

Delivered

Dear Mr Jones,

I am writing to request an internal review of Australian Electoral Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Periodic disclosures database'.

While I believe that the document which is the subject of my request has been correctly identified, I disagree with the assessment that it falls under the exclusion described in paragraph (d) of the definition of 'document' in subsection 4(1) of the Act as you assert.

While some parts of the document are 'publicly available' there are other important and relevant parts which are not. Specifically, the incomplete view of the database (document) made available via http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au excludes unique identifiers which are almost certainly recorded in the relevant database, and are therefore part of the document. Part of the motivation for this request was also to discover what other parts of the database are not made available via the mentioned URL.

Being able to uniquely identify entities (parties, organisations, donors, etc.), donations, transactions and disclosures is an important part of what makes this document interesting and useful from a public interest point of view.

I would also like to clarify the scope of my request to explicitly exclude copies of the original returns.

I have not requested that the AEC create a document to satisfy this request (as your paragraph 18 appears to contemplate), rather that the document is provided in a format appropriate to its nature.

Please don't hesitate to get in touch should you wish to clarify anything in this or the original request. I'm also happy to speak with relevant technical staff regarding data formats or other technical details should that be helpful in processing my request.

Finally, it may be helpful for the processing of this request if you could describe the structure of the data held in the Annual Returns Locator Service by way of a record layout, entity relationship diagram or other similar document. Such a description would allow me to be much more precise about the specific parts of the document I'm interested in and may make fulfilment of the request simpler.

Kind regards,
Simon

Link to this

Australian Electoral Commission

Thank you for contacting us.

This is an automatic response from the Australian Electoral Commission to confirm we have received your email.

For more information on enrolling to vote, federal elections or the AEC, visit www.aec.gov.au.

Please do not respond to this email.

Link to this

From: Legal Services Mailbox
Australian Electoral Commission


Attachment image001.gif
4K Download

Attachment image003.gif
0K Download


Dear Simon

I refer to your email of 9 February 2017 in which you seek internal review
of the decision of Owen Jones to refuse your FOI Request.

I now have carriage of the matter, and will arrange for a person (other
than the person who made the original decision) to review the decision.

Regards

Emma

Emma Rostron | A/g Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Procurement Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4638

Important note: This email may contain advice that is subject to legal
professional privilege. Care should be taken to avoid unintended waiver of
that privilege. AEC’s Chief Legal Officer should be consulted prior to any
decision to disclose the existence or content of any advice contained in
this email to a third party.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1]Australian [2]Australian
Electoral Electoral
Commission Commission
logo

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Legal Services Mailbox
Australian Electoral Commission


Attachment LS5930 FOI IR Decision Letter Simon.pdf
1.2M Download View as HTML

Attachment Attachment B Document 1.zip
519K Download

Attachment Attachment A.pdf
14K Download View as HTML


Dear Simon

 

I refer to your email dated 9 February 2017, to the Australian Electoral
Commission (‘AEC’) in which you request (your ‘Internal Review Request’)
under the [1]Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the ‘FOI Act’) into the
decision on your FOI Request LS5925 made by Mr Owen Jones, Senior Lawyer
of the AEC dated 9 February 2017.

 

I enclose a scanned letter with attachments dated 10 March from Paul
Pirani, Chief Legal Officer of the AEC, notifying you of his decision on
your FOI Internal Review Request.

Regards

Emma Rostron | A/g Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Procurement Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Australian Electoral Commission only: