Pollution levels from 2006 through 2016 for the Murray River

Andrew Demetriou made this Freedom of Information request to Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

The request was refused by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

From: Andrew Demetriou

Delivered

Dear Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation,

My name is Andrew Demetriou and I am studying a diploma of journalism. For our data collection assignment I have chosen to write about Fracking. We are required to lodge a freedom of information request. I do not mind if the information I request is already online somewhere, but I have to go through the FOI process properly. I will most likely write about how Victoria has placed a moratorium on Fracking and the reasons why other state and country examples may consider doing the same. (This will not be an opinion piece and both arguments will be heard equally.

Yours faithfully, Andrew Demetriou - [email address]

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Dear Andrew,

My apologies for the delay in responding to your email.

Unfortunately the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) FOI Act, does not apply to documents publicly available.

However, for the purposes of you assignment, you can lodge a FOI request and I will formally process (and then reject it) on the grounds that the documents are publicly available. Will this be sufficient for your purposes?

You could, for example seek "A copy of the journal article by CSIRO entitled Environmental issues associated with coal seam gas recovery; managing the fracking boom". This is publicly available, but to assist your assignment I could process the request.

Please do not hesitate to contact me, should you require any further assistance.

Kind regards,

Beth Maloney
Legal Counsel, CSIRO

Phone: +612 6276 6436 |
[email address] | www.csiro.au
Address: CSIRO Corporate Centre
PO Box 225
DICKSON ACT 2602 Australia  

Please note: I am in the office on Monday,Thursday and Friday.
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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

To the applicant. I do not like to say this but Beth Maloney, Legal Counsel, CSIRO does not understand the FOI law. She says "Unfortunately the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) FOI Act, does not apply to documents publicly available." This is not true.

The FOI Act applies to some documents but not to other documents. Section 4 of the Act explains that it does not apply to "material maintained for reference purposes that is otherwise publicly available". Ms Maloney cannot refuse your request only because the material is publicly available. It must be publicly available AND it must be maintained for reference purposes. The reason for this is to say that a person cannot ask the agency under FOI for a copy of the dictionary on the library shelf of the agency because the dictionary is there for "reference purposes".

However, you do not say in your email what documents you would like from the CSIRO but you must do this if you want your email to be a valid FOI request. When I read your email I could understand what topic you wish to write but I do not see any request for a specific document in the email. So it is true that Ms Maloney has made a mistake but even if she did not make this mistake, your email is not an FOI request.

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