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Questionable employment practices in the Federal Court

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Dear Attorney-General's Department,

This is a request for documents.

You are welcome to provide access to the requested documents via an administrative release. Otherwise, this is a request for documents under the FOI Act.

The relevant search period is from 1 February 2022 to the date this request is received by the AGD.

Please provide access to any documents setting out correspondence between any one or more of the Attorney-General, the Minister assisting (Senator Stoker), Katherine Jones PSM, Iain Anderson, Sarah Chidgey, Martin Hehir, Cameron Gifford, Albin Smrdel PSM, members of the "Legal System" team in the "Families and Legal System" division of the AGD, the Agency Head of the Federal Court of Australia Statutory Agency, or any other members of the Federal Court of Australia Statutory Agency, in relation to three articles published in the Australian on 8, 9 and 10 February 2022 bearing the following titles respectively:

Untried lawyers score key positions;
Federal Court boss warned on job rule sidestep;
Top judge warned of registrar overhaul.

Documents may be provided in digital format by return email.

Yours faithfully,

Alex

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

 

Dear Alex

Freedom of Information Request FOI22/034

I refer to your request to the Attorney-General's Department (the
department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) for access
to documents.

Your request is for:

The relevant search period is from 1 February 2022 to the date this
request is received by the AGD.

Please provide access to any documents setting out correspondence between
any one or more of the Attorney-General, the Minister assisting (Senator
Stoker), Katherine Jones PSM, Iain Anderson, Sarah Chidgey, Martin Hehir,
Cameron Gifford, Albin Smrdel PSM, members of the "Legal System" team in
the "Families and Legal System" division of the AGD, the Agency Head of
the Federal Court of Australia Statutory Agency, or any other members of
the Federal Court of Australia Statutory Agency, in relation to three
articles published in the Australian on 8, 9 and 10 February 2022 bearing
the following titles respectively:

Untried lawyers score key positions;

Federal Court boss warned on job rule sidestep;

Top judge warned of registrar overhaul.

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 2022 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 21 March
2022. 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.

The department's practice is to not disclose personal information of staff
of the department and other government authorities, where that information
is not publicly known or routinely disclosed (e.g. names of junior
officers and contact information). 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

 

Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Strategy and Governance
Branch

Attorney-General’s Department

T: 02 6141 6666| E: [3][AGD request email]

 

[4]AG1

 

 

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

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2. mailto:[AGD request email]
3. mailto:[AGD request email]

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

 

Dear Alex

Freedom of Information Request FOI22/034

I refer to your request to the Attorney-General's Department (the
department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) for access
to documents.

The purpose of my email is to seek your agreement to extend the processing
period for your request. Further information about this, including my
reasons for requesting an extension from you, has been set out below for
your consideration and response.  

Extension of Time Request

Under section 15AA of the FOI Act, an agency may extend the initial
processing period

for dealing with a request by a further period of no more than 30 days if
the applicant agrees in writing to the extension and the agency gives
written notice of the extension to the Information Commissioner as soon as
practicable after the agreement is made.

I would like to request your agreement to extend the processing period for
your request by 30 days. I am requesting this extension of time from you
to ensure the department has sufficient time to process and finalise your
request in accordance with the FOI Act. Please be assured that we are
working to process your request as quickly as possible. However,
consultation in relation to the documents requires further time to be
completed.

If you agree to the requested extension of up to 30 days, please let me
know in writing by COB Wednesday 16 March 2022.

The department received your request on 19 February 2022 and the 30 day
statutory period for processing your request is currently 21 March 2022. 

If you agree to the requested extension, the new due date will be 20 April
2022. However, the department will make every effort to provide a decision
to you as soon as possible.

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 Section | Strategy and Governance
Branch

Attorney-General’s Department

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

 

[3]AG1

 

 

 

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]

Dear Euphrasia,

In your email, you seek my agreement to extend the processing period for the request that I made. You also state that you do so for reasons set out in your email.

It is not clear to me why the AGD requires more time to identify correspondence sent or received by 8 names individuals and a few handfuls of team members in the Legal System team over a 19 day period. Nor is it clear to me why a period of a further 30 days is required to undertake the task.

For example, no explanation has been provided as to why emails have not been sent to the relevant individuals asking them to check their correspondence for the relevant 19 day period (a period within recent memory).

So far as I am able to tell, the request is not a particularly onerous one, as it applies to a very short period of time and to a select group of people within the AGD (assuming they have even corresponded on the subject).

To the extent that the reasons provided have been provided in good faith, they are inadequate.

In the absence of adequate reasons, my answer must be no - I do not agree to the requested extension of time to process the request.

Yours sincerely,

Alex

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

OFFICIAL
Dear Alex

Thank you for your email. Although the scope of your request relates to a relatively narrow timeframe, initial searches conducted by the department have identified a substantial number of documents requiring assessment. Your request has been progressed, but the pandemic has affected the resourcing available to process this request.

The department is working to process your request as quickly as possible, but I would be grateful if you would consider agreeing to a two-week extension. If so, a decision in relation to your request would be due on 4 April 2022.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely
Euphrasia
FOI Case Officer

Freedom of Information and Privacy Section | Strategy and Governance Branch
Attorney-General’s Department
T: 02 6141 6666| E: [AGD request email]

OFFICIAL

show quoted sections

Dear Euphrasia,

Thank you for your message.

In your message you note that:

a) although the scope of my request relates to a relatively narrow timeframe, initial searches conducted by the department have identified a substantial number of documents requiring assessment; and
b) the pandemic has affected the AGD's resourcing to process the request.

In relation to (a), "substantial" is a vague qualification. If there are thousands of documents that require assessment, then I might be willing to agree to an extension of time. If, on the other hand, there are 40 or 50 documents that require assessment, then I would not agree to an extension of time. Would you mind identifying the precise number of documents being assessed?

Also, would you mind explaining what you mean by "assessment"? FOI decision makers in the AGD have been been given a thrashing for over-engineering, to the point of unlawfulness, the assessment of documents: Dreyfus and Attorney-General (Commonwealth of Australia) (Freedom of Information) [2015] AATA 995.

In relation to (b), while it is unfortunate that the pandemic has affected the AGD's resourcing, that is not a particularly compelling reason. Australia has been in the grip of the pandemic for more that two years. That the AGD has not adequately planned for the under-resourcing by which it is affected betrays the fact of a failure to plan adequately on the part of the Department's management. The Department's lack of preparation will not affect my decision to agree or disagree to an extension of time.

Yours sincerely,

Alex

Shelley Napper,

5 Attachments

Our reference: RQ22/00975

Agency reference: FOI22/034

Alex

Sent by email: [FOI #8480 email]

Extension of time application by Attorney-General's Department

Dear Alex

 I write to advise that on 22 March 2022 the Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner (the OAIC) received an application from
Attorney-General's Department (Department) for an extension of time, to
process your FOI request of 19 February 2022.

 

The Department has applied for an extension of time under s 15AC of the
Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) because it has been unable to
finalise your request within the initial decision period.

 

The Department has advised the OAIC that:

The department sought an extension from the applicant on 11 March 2022
when it became clear that the number of documents were substantial. The
applicant replied, seeking further information, which the department
provided to him on 16 March 2022. The applicant responded again on 20
March 2022.

The initial bundle of documents provided by the line area numbered 117
documents, consisting of about 660 pages. There are a large number of
incomplete email chains which has taken substantial time to review and
sort.

In addition, the FOI team had been working under a substantially reduced
capacity (by 40%) due to staff being on leave and acting in other
capacities. The FOI officer was carrying a heavy caseload as a result and
this impacted on the processing of this request.

The Department has requested an extension to 20 April 2022. The decision
maker will take any comments you may have to make into account when
deciding the application.

 

Please respond to this email by close of business 30 March 2022. If I do
not hear from you by this date, the decision maker will make a decision on
the basis of the information provided to the OAIC by the Department.

 

You will be notified of the decision once the matter has been finalised.

 

Further information about extension of time requests may be found on our
website at [1]Extensions of time.

 

Kind regards

 

[2][IMG]   Shelley Napper  |  Assistant
Director

Investigations and Compliance

Freedom of Information
Regulatory Group

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |
 [3]oaic.gov.au  
[7]Subscribe [8]Subscribe to
[4]Facebook | [5]LinkedIn | [6]Twitter |   icon Information
Matters

 

 

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Dear Ms Napper

Thank you for your email noting that the AGD applied for an extension of time on 22 March 2022 in relation to my FOI request of 19 February 2022.

According to your email, a staff member in the AGD has provided the following reasons in support of the application for an extension of time:

The department sought an extension from the applicant on 11 March 2022 when it became clear that the number of documents were substantial. The applicant replied, seeking further information, which the department provided to him on 16 March 2022. The applicant responded again on 20 March 2022.

The initial bundle of documents provided by the line area numbered 117 documents, consisting of about 660 pages. There are a large number of incomplete email chains which has taken substantial time to review and sort.

In addition, the FOI team had been working under a substantially reduced capacity (by 40%) due to staff being on leave and acting in other capacities. The FOI officer was carrying a heavy caseload as a result and this impacted on the processing of this request.

For the following reasons, I submit that an extension of time should not be granted.

First, the application for an extension of time was made outside the 30 day period of time for processing FOI requests.

Second, it is not clear why Euphrasia from the AGD did not advise me about the exact number of documents that the AGD was considering, particularly because I asked her for that information. Euphrasia's correspondence was loaded with vague and hazy language; little was to the point or clear. I asked Euphrasia to provide a precise answer to my question on the number of documents being assessed on 20 March 2022 but I received no response.

Third, Euphrasia requested an extension of time until 4 April 2022 on 16 March 2022. Why has that timeframe blown out by 16 days?

Fourth, and probably most importantly, the Attorney-General is responsible for the administration of the FOI Act under the current Administrative Arrangements Order. It is entirely unacceptable for the Attorney not to make arrangements to ensure that the freedom of information functions of the Department are not detrimentally hampered by leave arrangements and acting arrangements. The Attorney should be leading by example. The rights of Australians to access documents under the FOI Act are not dependent on the holidays of the Department’s staff. It’s bad enough that the OAIC has been so starved of funds as to be virtually feckless from a timeliness standpoint (I understand there is a more than 12 months backlog in relation to IC review requests). The OAIC should not be rewarding the Attorney, as principal officer under the FOI Act, for failing to keep her house in order. The OAIC would be sending the wrong message to the Australian public and to principal officers if an extension of time were to be granted in the circumstances.

Fifth, I have already applied for IC review. The relevant review reference is MR22/00464. My rights to access review should not be detrimentally affect because the principal officer of the AGD has dropped the ball.

Sixth, and related to the fifth reason, most Australians know that the Commissioner will not be making a decision in respect of my review request anytime soon. The AGD would not be disadvantaged if a deemed refusal decision were to stay in place because the AGD is at liberty to engage with me in good faith until the Commissioner makes a review decision. The AGD is also at liberty to make decisions granting access to the requested documents while the IC review process is underway. On the other hand, I would be disadvantaged by an extension of time being granted to the AGD because the AGD would then have more time to consider a request that it would otherwise have handled if it had its affairs in order. That would also entail that my rights to access IC review would be deferred until both primary and internal review decisions are made by officers in the AGD.

Seventh, the documents requested are topical documents. They relate to allegations of misconduct in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to employment decisions. It is very much in the public interest for the documents to be made available as soon as possible because of the seriousness of the allegations (which were recorded in articles in the Australian on 8, 9 and 10 February 2022) and because there are so many FOI applications on the Right to Know website in relation to the allegations; granting an extension of time would simply provide the AGD with more time to potentially stonewall the release of the documents (which the Department has done in the past in relation to other documents: see Dreyfus and Attorney-General (Commonwealth of Australia) (Freedom of Information) [2015] AATA 995).

Eighth, in my opinion, no compelling reasons have been provided to the OAIC as to why the AGD took so long to apply for an extension of time. If it was clear to the AGD that there was a need for an extension of time on 11 March 2022 and the AGD had not succeeded in convincing me in agreeing to an extension of time on 16 March 2022, the AGD should have applied for an extension of time then. If I did ultimately agree to an extension of time, the AGD could have retracted its request to the OAIC.

Ninth, and finally, I do not think that the AGD has engaged with me in good faith. By way of examples, and as intimated, their responses to my questions have been evasive. By way of a second example, no attempt was made to notify me that an extension of time application was lodged with the OAIC even though the deemed refusal decision came into effect on 21 March 2022. An agency that engages in good faith with an access applicant does not do (or fail to do) such things.

You are welcome to review the entirety of my correspondence with the AGD at https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/q....

I ask that you continue to correspond with me exclusively via the Right to Know website until such time as that becomes inappropriate (e.g. when confidential submissions are required etc).

Yours sincerely,

Alex

Dear Ms Napper

In my response to you, I have incorrectly attributed responsibility for failures in the AGD to the Attorney-General. On closer inspection of the FOI Act, the principal officer of the AGD is not the Attorney (as I incorrectly noted); it is the Secretary of the Department, Ms Katherine Jones PSM.

I apologise unreservedly for wrongly blaming the Attorney-General for the staffing issues in the FOI team of the AGD. The Attorney should not be blamed for the failure to ensure that appropriate staffing arrangements were in place to handle the FOI functions of the Department with 40% of the FOI team away on leave or acting in other roles. If I have not misunderstood the FOI Act, the Secretary of the Department should be blamed as she is the principal officer of the Department. To the extent that it is possible, please read the reasons that I provided as though references to the principal officer were references to the Secretary of the Department. My reasons should be read in the light of this message. I should add that I do not think the force of my reasons is diminished by this message.

Yours sincerely,

Alex

Eoin McMahon,

6 Attachments

Dear Applicant and FOI Contact Officer,

 

Please see attached decision regarding the Attorney-General’s Department’s
application for an extension of time to process FOI request FOI22/034.

Kind regards,

 

 

[1][IMG]   Eoin McMahon  |  Review Adviser

Investigations and Compliance

Freedom of Information
Regulatory Group

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |
 [2]oaic.gov.au

+61 2 9284 9716  | 
[3][email address]
[7]Subscribe [8]Subscribe to
[4]Facebook | [5]LinkedIn | [6]Twitter |   icon Information
Matters

 

 

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FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

2 Attachments

OFFICIAL

 

Dear Alex

 

Freedom of Information Request FOI22/034

 

I refer to your request to the Attorney-General's Department (the
department) 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].

 

Sincerely

Joanna

 

 

 

Joanna Baker

Assistant Director

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

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

Dear Ms Baker,

Thank you for providing me with Dr Smrdel's letter of decision.

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Attorney-General's Department's handling of my FOI request 'Questionable employment practices in the Federal Court'.

Since I made my request, there have been many developments.

For example:

a) the name of the Queensland Registrar who was cheated out an SES1 position has come to light - it is Murray Belcher (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/s...

b) the members of the selection committee who selected Mr Belcher were Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/s...

c) Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt selected Mr Belcher to fill an SES Band 1 vacancy (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/s...

d) the Australian Public Service Commissioner's representative in relation to that selection process, Ms Kerryn Vine Camp, certified the SES Band 1 selection process, which involved Murray Belcher's promotion to the SES1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - QLD position, as complying with the Public Service Act 1999 and the Australian Public Service Commissioner's DIrections 2016 (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...

e) despite the evidence pointing squarely to the fact that Murray Belcher was promoted to the Senior Executive Service, Mr Warwick Soden said to Justice Greenwood that he was going to reclassify the SESB1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - QLD position to a lower classification to avoid Ms Vine Camp "vetoing" the selection committee's promotion decision, which does not make sense because Mr Belcher's promotion was certified by Ms Kerryn Vine Camp (see the article published on 10 February 2022 in The Australian);

f) despite being promoted to the Senior Executive Service and despite Ms Vine Camp certifying the selection process, Mr Belcher's name does not appear among the names of the SES employees in the Federal Court of Australia Statutory Agency (see the documents associated with PA2925-06/9 on the Federal Court of Australia's disclosure log at https://fedcourt.gov.au/disclosurelog);

g) it would appear that Mr Russell Trott, the current National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar of Western Australia also came across the same fate as Mr Belcher;

h) the members of the selection committee who selected Mr Trott were Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/s...

i) Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt selected Mr Trott to fill an SES Band 1 vacancy (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/s...

j) the Australian Public Service Commissioner's representative in relation to the selection process for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - WA postion, Ms Kerryn Vine Camp, certified the SES Band 1 selection process, which involved Russell Trott's promotion to the SES1 National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - WA position, as complying with the Public Service Act 1999 and the Australian Public Service Commissioner's DIrections 2016 (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/c...

k) despite being promoted to the Senior Executive Service and despite Ms Vine Camp certifying the selection process, Mr Trott's name does not appear among the names of the SES employees in the Federal Court of Australia Statutory Agency (see the documents associated with PA2925-06/9 on the Federal Court of Australia's disclosure log at https://fedcourt.gov.au/disclosurelog);

l) the Federal Court of Australia has refused to provide access to the vacancy notifications for the "Legal 2" National Judicial Registrar vacancies on the ground that the notifications do not exists (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...

m) the Federal Court of Australia has refused to provide access to the classification evaluations for the "Legal 2" National Judicial Registrar vacancies on the ground that the evaluations do not exists (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/c...

n) the Federal Court of Australia has refused to provide access to the role/position descriptions for the "Legal 2" National Judicial Registrar vacancies on the ground that the descriptions do not exists (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...

o) the Federal Court of Australia has refused to provide access to the vacancy notifications for the "SES1" National Judicial Registrar vacancies on the ground that the notifications do not exists (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...

p) the Federal Court of Australia has refused to provide access to the classification evaluations for the "SES1" National Judicial Registrar vacancies on the ground that the evaluations do not exists (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/c...

q) the Federal Court of Australia has refused to provide access to the role/position descriptions for the "SES1" National Judicial Registrar vacancies on the ground that the descriptions do not exists, even though the role/position description for the SES1 National Judicial Registrar position is on the Federal Court's disclosure log (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...

r) terens has deduced the identities of 6 of the "Legal 2" National Judicial Registrars who were provided with individual flexibility arrangements to cheat the capped number of SES positions available in the Federal Court Statutory Agency - they are Phillip Allaway, Matthew Benter, Rupert Burns, Claire Gitsham, David Ryan and Tuan Van Le (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/i...

s) the Federal Court of Australia has disclosed the identity of the female national registrar referred to in The Australian article (Untried lawyers score key positions) published on 8 February 2022 - it is Caitlin Wu (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/u...

Dr Smrdel claims that content that is the subject of conditional exemptions will "prejudice the protection of an individual's right to privacy" if the documents were granted access to in the context of the public interest test set out in s 11A(5) of the FOI Act. In the light of what is available online and on this website, I doubt there's much "privacy" left to prejudice.

Dr Smrdel also claims that granting access to the conditionally exempt materials would prejudice a current investigation by the Commonwealth Ombudsman. I doubt that to be the case.

Most of the documents are items of correspondence with Federal Court staff. The investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman is an investigation into Acting Assistant Commissioner McMullan's investigation under the Public Interest Disclosure Act and, specifically, whether her investigation of the allegations set out in the internal disclosure she investigated were inadequate. Plainly they were (see, for example, terens' analysis of Ms McMullan's comments published in The Australia - https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/i...).

The Ombudsman's investigation does not extend to the substantial allegation made against senior staff members in the Federal Court by the PID discloser. Those allegations will remain inadequately investigated. That is why these FOI requests are so important. The people who have committed the unlawful acts appear to still be getting away with the consequences of those unlawful acts, while those who have benefited from those unlawful acts have been publicly embarrassed on this website. That does seem unfair and does not seem like it is in the public interest.

I think much of what has been redacted under conditional exemption grounds or irrelevance can be pared back in the light of the information that is now publicly available. Please ask the person conducting the internal review to take a less miserly approach than Dr Smrdel. In the light of what's been exposed, you'll forgive me for coming across as jaded.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/q...

Yours faithfully,

Alex

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

OFFICIAL

 

Dear Alex

Internal review request FOI22/034-IR

I refer to your application to the Attorney-General's Department (the
department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) for
internal review of the department's decision for your request FOI22/034.

I understand your internal review application requests the department
review the reasons for refusing access to material under conditional
exemptions applied in your decision. I also understand you have requested
the department review the material identified as irrelevant to the scope
of your request.

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

The department received your request on 22 April 2022 and the 30 day
statutory period for processing your review commenced from the day after
that date. You should therefore expect a decision from us by 23 May 2022.

The department's practice is to not disclose personal information of staff
of the department and other government authorities, where that information
is not publicly known or routinely disclosed (e.g. names of junior
officers and contact information). 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].

Joanna

 

Joanna Baker

Assistant Director

Freedom of Information and Privacy | Strategy and Governance Branch

Attorney-General’s Department

T: 02 6141 6666 | E: [3][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. http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtection...
2. mailto:[AGD request email]
3. mailto:[AGD request email]

MCMAHON,Eoin,

6 Attachments

Dear Applicant and FOI Contact Officer,

 

Please see attached decision regarding the Attorney-General’s Department’s
application for an extension of time to process FOI request FOI22/034-IR.

 

Kind regards,

 

[1][IMG]   Eoin McMahon  |  Review Adviser

Investigations and Compliance

Freedom of Information
Regulatory Group

Office of the Australian
Information Commissioner

GPO Box 5218 Sydney NSW 2001  |
 [2]oaic.gov.au

+61 2 9284 9716  | 
[3][email address]
[7]Subscribe [8]Subscribe to
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Matters

 

 

Notice:

The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 488 064 during business hours (8:30am - 5pm Canberra
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References

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2. https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlo...
3. mailto:[email address]
4. https://aus01.safelinks.protection.outlo...
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8. https://www.oaic.gov.au/updates/sign-up/

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

OFFICIAL

 

Dear Alex

Internal review request FOI22/034-IR

I refer to your application to the Attorney-General's Department (the
department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) for
internal review of the department's decision for your request FOI22/034.

I am writing to you to advise you the department is working to finalise
your request for internal review. Please be assured that we are working to
process your request as quickly as possible and your review is at an
advanced stage of the process. However, consultation regarding potential
disclosure of documents to you is taking longer than originally
anticipated.

 

The department will be providing your decision to you no later than Friday
17 June 2022.

 

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

Joanna

 

Joanna Baker

Assistant Director

Freedom of Information and Privacy | Strategy and Governance Branch

Attorney-General’s Department

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

OFFICIALOFFICIAL

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]

Attorney-General's Department

 
 
  [1]Office of the Australian Information Reference Code:  
Commissioner ICR_10-49380102-2679
 

 
You submitted a form called: FOI Review_
 
Your form reference code is: ICR_10-49380102-2679

To check the progress of your submission and/or confirm it has been
received you should contact the agency that provides the form. These
details are displayed below.
 
 
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
[2]http://www.oaic.gov.au | [3]1300 363 992 | [4][email address]
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001
 
 
Note: Please do not reply to this auto-generated email.
 

References

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2. http://www.oaic.gov.au/
3. file:///tmp/tel:1300 363 992
4. mailto:[email address]

Attorney-General's Department

1 Attachment

Our reference: MR22/00986

 

By email: [FOI #8480 email]

Receipt of your IC review application  

Thank you for your application for Information Commissioner Review (IC
review).

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is
considering your application.

If you wish to advise the OAIC of any changes to your circumstances,
including your contact details or if your FOI request has been resolved,
please write to [email address] and quote MR22/00986.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Freedom of Information Regulatory Group

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

 

 

 

Notice:

The information contained in this email message and any attached files may
be confidential information, and may also be the subject of legal
professional privilege. If you are not the intended recipient any use,
disclosure or copying of this email is unauthorised. If you received this
email in error, please notify the sender by contacting the department's
switchboard on 1300 488 064 during business hours (8:30am - 5pm Canberra
time) and delete all copies of this transmission together with any
attachments.

FOI Requests, Attorney-General's Department

2 Attachments

OFFICIAL

 

Dear Alex

 

Internal Review Decision for Freedom of Information Request FOI22/034-IR

 

I refer to your request to the Attorney-General's Department (the
department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) for review
of your decision. 

 

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

 

Please find attached your decision letter, including review rights,
schedule of documents, statement of reasons, and documents.

 

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

 

Yours sincerely

 

Joanna

 

Joanna Baker

Assistant Director

Freedom of Information and Privacy | Strategy and Governance Branch

Attorney-General’s Department

T: 02 6141 6666 | E: [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.

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Alex please sign in and let everyone know.