Politically motivated corruption at the Attorney-General’s Department

The request was partially successful.

Dear Attorney-General's Department,

I refer to this Liberal Party advertisement published by the supposedly ‘independent’ Attorney-General’s Department: https://twitter.com/agdgovau/status/1362... and which conveys the Liberal Party’s political view that a merger of the family court is apparently ‘overdue’ – when in fact, independent experts advise that these ‘reforms’ will lead to further violence against women (which, noting Brittany Higgins, is apparently the Liberal Party’s raison d’etre).

The publication of this political advertisement indicates that either:

- the Department’s twitter account has, in the commission of a criminal offence, been hacked by a member of the Liberal Party who has used taxpayer resources to publish political advertising; or
- the Department has again been infiltrated by a corrupt Liberal Party grub who has contravened the Public Service Act 1999 by using Commonwealth resources to publish an advertisement for their beloved Liberal Party.

Either way, illegal activity has been engaged in and the perpetrator of the illegality should be brought to justice.

To that end, under the FOI Act, I seek a copy of any document that constitutes an authorisation for the above-mentioned tweet/political advertisement to be published by way of AGD’s twitter account.

In processing this request, I remind AGD staff (because it’s apparently necessary) of their legal obligation to act honestly, transparently, apolitically and with integrity.

The release of the documents at issue are clearly in the public interest noting paragraph 6.19 of the FOI Guidelines states that a public interest factor favouring disclosure of a document is that the document will ‘reveal or substantiate that an agency or official has engaged in misconduct or negligent, improper or unlawful conduct.’

Also, as AGD Senior Executives always say when advocating for laws that intrude ever closer on the privacy of Australian citizens – ‘if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear’.

Thanks.

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

Your email has been received by the Freedom of Information and Privacy
Section of the Attorney-General's Department. Please note that we will
only action and respond to FOI requests and other matters relating to the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act). For information on how to
make an FOI request please refer to the FOI page on the department’s
website at:
[1]https://www.ag.gov.au/rights-and-protect....

 

If your email relates to the FOI Act, we will contact you shortly to
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Dear Attorney-General's Department,

Further to my request, I note media reports of another recent instance of partisan and politically motivated corruption engaged in by the Attorney General's Department: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/...

At a time when public sector corruption, such as that engaged in by the Attorney-General's Department, is at endemic levels across the APS, and noting that there is broad-based support across Australia for the establishment of an independent federal commission to deal with public sector corruption such as that engaged in by the Attorney-General's Department, there is a strong public interest in the release of the documents the subject of my request.

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

OFFICIAL

 

Dear FQ

 

Freedom of Information Request FOI21/030

 

I refer to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI
Act) for access to documents.

 

Your request is for:

 

a copy of any document that constitutes an authorisation for the
above-mentioned tweet/political advertisement to be published by way of
AGD’s twitter account

 

If you disagree with this interpretation of your request, please let me
know in writing as soon as possible.

 

The department received your request on 19 February 2021 and the 30 day
statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after
that date. You should therefore expect a decision from us by 22 March
2021. However, the period of 30 days may be extended if the department
needs to consult third parties or for other reasons. We will advise you if
this happens.

 

Where the documents within the scope of an FOI request include the
personal information of junior officers of the department or other
government authorities, the department’s practice is to not disclose that
information (e.g., names, contact details). The names of senior officers
will generally be disclosed. In addition, duplicates and incomplete email
chains within the scope of the FOI request will be excluded.

 

Please note that, with some exceptions (such as personal information),
documents released under the FOI Act may later be published online on the
department’s disclosure log
[1]http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtection....

 

If you have any questions, please contact me by telephone on (02) 6141
6666 or by email to [2][AGD request email].

 

Yours sincerely

Euphrasia

FOI Case Officer

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Requests,

I refer to your email to me of 2 March 2021 and in particular, the following statement

“Where the documents within the scope of an FOI request include the personal information of junior officers of the department or other government authorities, the department’s practice is to not disclose that information (e.g., names, contact details).”

I refer AGD to the FOI Guidelines made under s.93A of the FOI Act and the application of s.93A(2) of the FOI Act. I note paragraphs 6.153 and 6.154 of the FOI Guidelines state:

"6.153 Where public servants’ personal information is included in a document because of their usual duties or responsibilities, it would not be unreasonable to disclose unless special circumstances existed. This is because the information would reveal only that the public servant was performing their public duties. Such information may often also be publicly available, such as on an agency website.

6.154 When considering whether it would be unreasonable to disclose the names of public servants, there is no basis under the FOI Act for agencies to start from the position that the classification level of a departmental officer determines whether his or her name would be unreasonable to disclose. In seeking to claim the exemption an agency needs to identify the special circumstances which exist rather than start from the assumption that such information is exempt."

I note that AGD’s standing policy of not releasing the names of certain AGD public servants is therefore illegal and whomever authorised the implementation of that policy has contravened their obligations under the Public Service Act.

At a time when the FOI Act is under attack from a corrupt Government and corrupt government agencies that are apparently allergic to accountability and transparency , it’s troubling that AGD, the Department with policy responsibility for administering the FOI Act, has implemented standardised policies and procedures as part of its FOI handling processes that are, at their core, illegal

Accordingly, and noting paragraph 6.19 of the FOI Guidelines states that a public interest factor favouring disclosure of a document is that the document will ‘reveal or substantiate that an agency or official has engaged in misconduct or negligent, improper or unlawful conduct’, I seek a copy of any document that amounts to an authorisation or approval of AGD’s policy to not disclose the names of junior public servants from documents the subject of FOI requests.

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

OFFICIAL
Dear FQ

Your email below deals with two matters:

1. The disclosure of junior officers' names in FOI document packages, and
2 . A new FOI request.

In regard to the first matter, it is clear you regard the names of junior officers as within the scope of your request and we will now process your request on that basis. Accordingly, we will be consulting relevant officers on the release of their names under section 27A of the FOI Act. As a result, the processing time for your request has been extended by 30 days and a decision on access is now due on 20 April 2021. You have provided commentary on the FOI Act and the FOI Guidelines regarding the release of junior officers' names for our consideration. I suggest you also review the Administrative Appeals Tribunal's decision of November last year which directly deals with this issue. You can access the decision here: http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdo....

As to your new FOI request, you will receive a formal acknowledgment within 14 days consistent with section 15 of the FOI Act.

Antony Catt
Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Section
Attorney-General’s Department

3-5 National Circuit | BARTON ACT 2600
Ph: (02) 6141 6666
OFFICIAL

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Requests,

Thank you for your email and your reference to the decision of the AAT in the Robodebt extortion matter. You've indicated that the decision deals directly with the the application of the s.47F of the FOI Act, but that's plainly incorrect. The decision of the AAT in that matter dealt with the application of s.47F only in respect of the particular circumstances of that case - circumstances in which junior public servants were not responsible for making decisions that led to the rolling out of the politically motivated illegal extortion program known as 'robodebt'. In the present circumstances, I consent to the redaction of the personal information of any public servant from any relevant document except where:

- in my FOI request of 19 February 2021, the public servant(s) responsible for recommending and/or deciding that the pro Liberal Party political advertising tweet the subject of my application should be published through the AGD's twitter account; and
- in my FOI request of 8 March 2021, the public servant(s) responsible for recommending and/or deciding that AGD have a standing policy of not releasing the names of junior public servants, notwithstanding the application of s.93A(2) of the FOI Act, and the clear instruction given by the FOI Guidelines on that matter.

Yours sincerely,

FQ

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

OFFICIAL

 

Dear FQ

 

Freedom of Information Request FOI21/040

 

I refer to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI
Act) for access to documents.

 

Your request is for:

 

a copy of any document that amounts to an authorisation or approval of
AGD’s policy to not disclose the names of junior public servants from
documents the subject of FOI requests.

 

If you disagree with this interpretation of your request, please let me
know in writing as soon as possible.

 

The department received your request on 8 March 2021 and the 30 day
statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after
that date. You should therefore expect a decision from us by 7 April 2021.

 

We assume that based on your comments in FOI21/030 that the names of
junior departmental officers are within the scope of your request. Please
note that the due date for this request may be extended by a further 30
days due to third party consultations.

 

If, however, you choose to exclude the names of junior departmental
officers, please let us know and the decision will be provided to you by 7
April 2020.

 

Please note that, with some exceptions (such as personal information),
documents released under the FOI Act may later be published online on the
department’s disclosure log
[1]http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtection....

 

If you have any questions, please contact me by telephone on (02) 6141
6666 or by email to [2][AGD request email].

 

Yours sincerely

Euphrasia

FOI Case Officer

 

OFFICIAL

When you make a request for documents or an inquiry about privacy matters,
the Attorney-Generals Department will only collect your personal
information where it is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to,
our functions under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 or the Privacy Act
1988. We may collect your name, email address and telephone number so that
we can contact you about your request under the Freedom of Information Act
for access to documents or access to, or correction of, personal
information; or a complaint you have made or your request for access to,
or correction of, personal information under the Privacy Act. If your
request concerns your personal information, we will collect the minimum
amount of evidence necessary to verify your identity. The handling of your
personal information is protected by the Privacy Act 1988 and our privacy
policy is available at http://www.ag.gov.au/Pages/Privacystatem....
If you have an enquiry or complaint about your privacy, please contact the
Privacy Contact Officer on 02 6141 2660 or via e-mail [email address].
If you have received this transmission in error please notify us
immediately by return e-mail and delete all copies. If this e-mail or any
attachments have been sent to you in error, that error does not constitute
waiver of any confidentiality, privilege or copyright in respect of
information in the e-mail or attachments.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtection...
2. mailto:[AGD request email]

Dear FOI Requests,

Thanks for that.

I agree for the personal information of any person to be redacted from any relevant document with the exception of the public servant that authorised, or purported to authorise, the implementation of AGD’s standing policy to not disclose the names of junior public servants contained in documents the subject of FOI requests.

Again, I refer AGD FOI Guidelines made under s.93A of the FOI Act and the application of s.93A(2) of the FOI Act. I also refer AGD to paragraphs 6.153 and 6.154 of the FOI Guidelines. I also refer AGD to paragraph 6.19 of the FOI Guidelines which states that a public interest factor favouring disclosure of a document is that the document will ‘reveal or substantiate that an agency or official has engaged in misconduct or negligent, improper or unlawful conduct’. I note that a failure on the part to comply with s.93A(2) constitutes a breach of subsections 13(1), 13(4), and 13(11) of the Public Service Act and therefore amounts to corruption. I note there is a strong public interest in identifying corrupt public servants particularly at a time when politically motivated corruption across the public sector is at endemic levels and the Government refuses to implement a Federal ICAC despite a vast majority of Australians supporting the establishment of an ‘independent’ body to address the endemic politically motivated corruption across the APS.

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

 

Dear FQ

 

Freedom of Information Request FOI21/040

 

I refer to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI
Act) for access to documents.

 

The purpose of this email is to provide you with a decision in response to
that request. 

 

Please find attached decision letter, including review rights.

 

If you have any questions, please contact me by telephone on (02) 6141
6666 or by email to [1][AGD request email].

 

Yours sincerely

Euphrasia

FOI Case Officer

 

OFFICIAL

When you make a request for documents or an inquiry about privacy matters,
the Attorney-Generals Department will only collect your personal
information where it is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to,
our functions under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 or the Privacy Act
1988. We may collect your name, email address and telephone number so that
we can contact you about your request under the Freedom of Information Act
for access to documents or access to, or correction of, personal
information; or a complaint you have made or your request for access to,
or correction of, personal information under the Privacy Act. If your
request concerns your personal information, we will collect the minimum
amount of evidence necessary to verify your identity. The handling of your
personal information is protected by the Privacy Act 1988 and our privacy
policy is available at http://www.ag.gov.au/Pages/Privacystatem....
If you have an enquiry or complaint about your privacy, please contact the
Privacy Contact Officer on 02 6141 2660 or via e-mail [email address].
If you have received this transmission in error please notify us
immediately by return e-mail and delete all copies. If this e-mail or any
attachments have been sent to you in error, that error does not constitute
waiver of any confidentiality, privilege or copyright in respect of
information in the e-mail or attachments.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[AGD request email]

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

5 Attachments

OFFICIAL

Dear FQ

 

Freedom of Information Request FOI21/030

 

I refer to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI
Act) for access to documents.

 

The purpose of this email is to provide you with a decision in response to
that request. 

 

Please find attached:

·       decision letter, including:

o   review rights,

o   schedule of documents,

o   statement of reasons, and

·       documents.

 

If you have any questions, please contact me by telephone on (02) 6141
6666 or by email to [1][AGD request email].

 

Yours sincerely

 

Euphrasia

FOI Case Officer

 

Freedom of Information and Privacy | Strategy and Governance Branch
Attorney-General’s Department

T: (02) 6141 6666 | E: [2][AGD request email]

 

 

OFFICIAL

When you make a request for documents or an inquiry about privacy matters,
the Attorney-Generals Department will only collect your personal
information where it is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to,
our functions under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 or the Privacy Act
1988. We may collect your name, email address and telephone number so that
we can contact you about your request under the Freedom of Information Act
for access to documents or access to, or correction of, personal
information; or a complaint you have made or your request for access to,
or correction of, personal information under the Privacy Act. If your
request concerns your personal information, we will collect the minimum
amount of evidence necessary to verify your identity. The handling of your
personal information is protected by the Privacy Act 1988 and our privacy
policy is available at http://www.ag.gov.au/Pages/Privacystatem....
If you have an enquiry or complaint about your privacy, please contact the
Privacy Contact Officer on 02 6141 2660 or via e-mail [email address].
If you have received this transmission in error please notify us
immediately by return e-mail and delete all copies. If this e-mail or any
attachments have been sent to you in error, that error does not constitute
waiver of any confidentiality, privilege or copyright in respect of
information in the e-mail or attachments.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[AGD request email]
2. mailto:[AGD request email]