Precise salaries paid to the Department’s SES officers for FY14/15, FY15/16 and FY16/17

Name withheld made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The request was refused by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the Department),

The following is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act.

I am conducting research, across a range of Government agencies, into the Government's enterprise bargaining framework for the Commonwealth Public Service. Specifically, in the interests of equity and transparency, whether the Government's policy to reduce the living standards of rank and file public servants (that is, public servants who are not considered senior executive service staff ('SES')) also extends to SES public servants.

I refer the Department to my FOI request made of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner here (the 'OAIC request'): https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p...

By this application I make the same request of the Department albeit such that every reference to 'OAIC' in the OAIC request should be read as a reference to the 'Department'. I rely on all my submissions contained in the OAIC request, in support of this request made of the Department under s.15 of the FOI Act.

Further, I am amenable to the Department providing copies of relevant group certificates or otherwise a payroll report or other summary document with the names of the relevant officers redacted but only on the condition that each relevant officer's name be replaced by a single unique identifier such that each relevant SES officer's precise salary can be tracked over the three relevant financial years (eg. SES officer #1, SES officer #2, SES officer #3 etc).

Thanks.

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Dear Sir/Madam,

We acknowledge receipt of your FOI request below.

The reference number for this request is FOI 2017/18-45.

The earliest due date for completion of the request is 9 March 2018. However, this period may be extended under provisions in the Freedom of Information Act 1982 including charges and third party consultations. We will let you know about processes that affect the timing for the request where this arises.

Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss if needed.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Dorrian
Government Lawyer | Freedom of Information & Privacy Team
Office of the General Counsel | Assurance and Legal Division

Phone +61 2 6272 4927 |  Email  [email address]
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources www.agriculture.gov.au
18 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia GPO Box 858 Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately and permanently delete this email.

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Dear Name Withheld,

In relation to your FOI request (FOI 2017/18-45), we seek the following clarification.

We note that you have already made an FOI request on 24 June 2017 (FOI 2016/17-83) for access to documents detailing the remuneration paid to each of the department’s Senior Executive Services (SES) for the financial years 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16.

Your current request appears to request the same documentation for financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16, with an additional request for documentation relating to financial year 2016/17.

As presently worded, we are of the view that your current request does not outline in full the documents you require. We consider it may cause confusion if you require us to refer to a request to another agency to determine what documents you are requesting.

For us to process your request please provide a clear explanation of what documents you are requesting. We also do not require you to reiterate the supporting information to process your request.

If you wish to discuss this matter, please contact me on the details below.

Yours sincerely,

Louise - FOI Officer
Freedom of Information & Privacy Team
Office of the General Counsel | Assurance and Legal Division

Phone +61 2 6272 4927 |  Email  [Department of Agriculture and Water Resources request email]
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources www.agriculture.gov.au
18 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia GPO Box 858 Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately and permanently delete this email.

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From: Name withheld

Delivered

Dear FOI

Thank you for your email.

My request made of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources on 7 February 2017 was validly made under s.15 of the FOI Act.

My request of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources incorporated reference to another FOI request.

You have indicated that my request 'may cause confusion'. I'm unsure why that should be the case (I note that hasn't been the case for other agencies in receipt of the same request).

To assist the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, I have copied and pasted the referenced request and inserted 'the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources' where relevant, as follows:

"I am conducting research, across a range of Government agencies, into the Government's enterprise bargaining framework for the Commonwealth Public Service. Specifically, in the interests of equity and transparency, whether the Government's policy to reduce the living standards of rank and file public servants (that is, public servants who are not considered senior executive service staff ('SES')) also extends to SES public servants.

Accordingly, I request documents which detail the precise salary paid to each of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources' (the Department's) SES officers in the following financial years - FY2014/15, FY 2015/16 and FY2016/17. That information might be included in the group certificates/end-of-year PAYG payments summaries issued by the Department to its SES officers, or common law contracts relating to the employment of the relevant SES officers or, any relevant determinations made under subsection 24(1) or 24(3) of the Public Service Act 1999 in respect of those relevant SES officers or, perhaps a document prepared pursuant to s.17 of the FOI Act. Such documents can be quickly and easily identified and retrieved, and will efficiently and accurately provide the information the subject of my request.

I am willing to agree to the decision maker redacting all information contained in any relevant document with the exception of the following:
- information that discloses the relevant SES officer's name;
- information that discloses that officers precise salary for the relevant financial year; and
- information that identifies what the document is (eg. a group certificate/payment summary, an employment contract or a s.23(1) Determination) and the period that it covers.

I am willing to further narrow the scope of my request by limiting it to officers employed by the Department who, at the time of my application, were categorised as SES officers, meaning that:
- Department staff who were once SES officers at the Department, but weren't categorised as such at the time of this application; and
- the documents the subject of my request that pertain to SES officers who are no longer employed by the Department;
are discounted from the scope of my application."

The Department will further note that my request stated the following:

"[…] I am amenable to the Department providing copies of relevant group certificates or otherwise a payroll report or other summary document with the names of the relevant officers redacted but only on the condition that each relevant officer's name be replaced by a single unique identifier such that each relevant SES officer's precise salary can be tracked over the three relevant financial years (eg. SES officer #1, SES officer #2, SES officer #3 etc)."

That's partially in recognition of the Information Commissioner's decision in 'MZ' and Department of Communications and the Arts (Freedom of information) [2017] AICmr 109 (27 October 2017): http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewd... (concerning the same request as this one but made of a different agency) where the Information Commissioner, at paragraph [15] stated '[…] if a payroll report or other summary document could be produced that would meet the terms of the request I consider that producing such a document may reasonably serve to somewhat reduce the request processing burden on the Department'.

You have indicated that the Department "[does] not require [me] to reiterate the supporting information to process [my] request." That notwithstanding, I would urge the Department to carefully consider those submissions (as set out here: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/p... - as they clearly demonstrate that the precise remuneration paid to senor public servants for performing public duties is an established matter of wide and countervailing public interest.

I trust the above is of some assistance and I remain willing to further assist the Department.

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Dear Name Withheld,

We acknowledge receipt of your email below.

Yours sincerely,

Louise - FOI Officer
Freedom of Information & Privacy Team
Office of the General Counsel | Assurance and Legal Division

Phone +61 2 6272 4927 |  Email  [Department of Agriculture and Water Resources request email]
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources www.agriculture.gov.au
18 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia GPO Box 858 Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately and permanently delete this email.

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From: Foi
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources


Attachment FOI2017.18 45 s24AB request consultation.pdf
275K Download View as HTML


Dear Name Withheld

Please find attached a request consultation notice regarding your FOI request.

Regards

Charine Bennett
Principal Government Lawyer | Freedom of Information & Privacy Team
Office of the General Counsel | Assurance and Legal Division

Phone +61 2 6272 5505 | Email  [Department of Agriculture and Water Resources request email]
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources www.agriculture.gov.au
18 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia GPO Box 858 Canberra ACT 2601 Australia

This email and any attachments may contain information subject to legal professional privilege or information that is otherwise sensitive or confidential. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are prohibited from using or disseminating this communication. If you have received this communication in error please notify the sender immediately and permanently delete this email.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
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