Request for documents in relation to the investigation of suspected breaches of s 65 of the PID Act, and about prosecution of suspected offences

The request was partially successful.

Dear Australian Public Service Commission,

On 20 March 2022 I made a request to the APSC for selection documents relating to the selection of the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - QLD and National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - WA of the Federal Court (see vacancy NN 10725159 in on pages 34-36 in Public Service Gazette No PS19 published on 10 May 2018).

On 25 March 2022 Ms Giorgina Strangio, the Assistant Commissioner for Integrity, Performance and Employment Policy in the Australian Public Service Commission, made an access decision and provided me with redacted copies of the selection reports.

On 27 March 2022 I requested an internal review of Ms Strangio's decision on the ground that the redactions were too extensive.

On 4 April 2022 Mr Patrick Hetherington, the First Assistant Commissioner in the Australian Public Service Commission, provided a decision pursuant to my internal review request. Mr Hetherington made a fresh decision and removed some of the redactions that Ms Strangio had made to the selection reports.

On 5 April 2022 I made a request to the APSC for selection documents relating to the selection of the NCF Registrar (NN 10690165 in Public Service Gazette No PS38 of 2016, published on 21 September 2016). The document is a similar document to the selection reports released to me by Ms Strangio and Mr Hetherington on 25 March 2022 and 4 April 2022

Ms Giorgina Strangio refused access to the document.

One of her reasons for refusing to grant access was that the selection report for vacancy NN 10690165 was provided to the APSC in the course of a PID investigation (much like the selection reports for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - QLD and National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - WA vacancies). According to an article published in the Australian on 29 March 2022, that PID investigation is subject to an investigation under the Ombudsman Act (a Category 4 investigation). In a mealy mouthed way, Ms Strangio claims that granting access to the selection report for vacancy NN 10690165 would undermine the secrecy provision (s 65) of the PID Act.

Section 65 of the PID Act provides:

(1) A person commits an offence if:
(a) the person has information (protected information) that the person obtained:
(i) in the course of conducting a disclosure investigation; or
(ii) in connection with the performance of a function, or the exercise of a power, by the person under this Act; and
(b) the person:
(i) discloses the information to another person; or
(ii) uses the information.

Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years or 120 penalty units, or both.

If Ms Strangio genuinely believes that disclosing information that is contained in documents that were obtained in the course of a disclosure investigation to people is a contravention of s 65 of the PID Act, and if she is correct, then, in providing the selection reports for the National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - QLD and National Judicial Registrar & District Registrar - WA vacancies that Murray Belcher and Russell Trott were "promoted" to, she contravented section 65. A person who contravenes s 65 commits an indictable offence, which is punishable by imprisonment for 2 years or 120 penalty units, or both. Accordingly, Ms Strangio, the Assistant Commissioner for Integrity, Performance and Employment Policy in the Australian Public Service Commission, and Mr Hetherington, the First Assistant Commissioner in the Australian Public Service Commission, would have committed offences.

Under the FOI Act, but for access to the Agency Guide to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (version 2), I request access to any and all documents held by the APSC that set out:

a) how investigations of suspected offences (generally) are to be investigated internally (that is, in the APSC);
b) how investigations of contraventions of s 65 of the PID Act are to be investigated internally (that is, in the APSC);
c) how referrals to investigative bodies are to be made if a person is suspected of contravening s 65 of the PID Act; and
d) anything about how the referral of suspected offences under s 65 of the PID Act are to made from an investigative body to a prosecutorial body.

Yours faithfully,

Marcus

FOI, Australian Public Service Commission

OFFICIAL
Dear Applicant

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is writing to acknowledge receipt of your request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

The timeframe for responding to your request is 30 days from the date of receipt. This timeframe may be extended in certain circumstances. You will be notified if these circumstances arise and the timeframe is extended.

Regards

FOI OFFICER
Legal Services

Australian Public Service Commission
Level 4, B Block, Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, PARKES ACT 2600
GPO Box 3176 CANBERRA ACT 2601

t: 02 6202 3500  w: www.apsc.gov.au        
                           

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or legally privileged information, and neither are waived or lost if the email has been sent in error. If you have received this email in error, please delete it (including any copies) and notify the sender. Please consult with APSC Legal Services before using disclosing any part of this email or attachments to a third party.

show quoted sections

FOI, Australian Public Service Commission

7 Attachments

OFFICIAL

Dear Applicant,

 

Please see attached.

 

Kind regards

 

FOI OFFICER

Legal Services

 

Australian Public Service Commission

Level 4, B Block, Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, PARKES ACT 2600
GPO Box 3176 CANBERRA ACT 2601

 

t: 02 6202 3500  w: [1]www.apsc.gov.au        

[2]three hexagons[3]twitter icon [4]facebook
icon                          

 

 

 

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or legally
privileged information, and neither are waived or lost if the email has
been sent in error. If you have received this email in error, please
delete it (including any copies) and notify the sender. Please consult
with APSC Legal Services before using disclosing any part of this email or
attachments to a third party.

 

show quoted sections

Dear Australian Public Service Commission,

What a disappointing decision. I would have thought that the agency that had the "important evaluation role in working with agencies to ensure that the APS is performing effectively and consistently with the APS Values" would have developed processes.

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Australian Public Service Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Request for documents in relation to the investigation of suspected breaches of s 65 of the PID Act, and about prosecution of suspected offences'.

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

Yours faithfully,

Marcus

FOI, Australian Public Service Commission

5 Attachments

OFFICIAL

Dear Applicant

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is writing to acknowledge
receipt of your request for internal review of FOI decision (reference LEX
84) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

 

The timeframe for responding to your internal review request is 30 days
from the date of receipt. This timeframe for internal review may be
extended in very limited circumstances. You will be notified if these
circumstances arise and the timeframe is extended.

 

Your Internal Review request is as follows:

“Dear Australian Public Service Commission,

What a disappointing decision. I would have thought that the agency that
had the "important evaluation role in working with agencies to ensure that
the APS is performing effectively and consistently with the APS Values"
would have developed processes.

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Australian Public Service
Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Request for documents in relation
to the investigation of suspected breaches of s 65 of the PID Act, and
about prosecution of suspected offences'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this
address: [1]https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...

Yours faithfully,

Marcus”

Regards

FOI OFFICER

Legal Services

 

Australian Public Service Commission

Level 4, B Block, Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, PARKES ACT 2600
GPO Box 3176 CANBERRA ACT 2601

 

t: 02 6202 3500  w: [2]www.apsc.gov.au        

[3]three hexagons[4]twitter icon [5]facebook
icon                          

 

 

 

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or legally
privileged information, and neither are waived or lost if the email has
been sent in error. If you have received this email in error, please
delete it (including any copies) and notify the sender. Please consult
with APSC Legal Services before using disclosing any part of this email or
attachments to a third party.

 

 

______________________________________________________________________ 
IMPORTANT: This message, and any attachments to it, contains information 
that is confidential and may also be the subject of legal professional or 
other privilege. If you are not the intended recipient of this message,
you 
must not review, copy, disseminate or disclose its contents to any other 
party or take action in reliance of any material contained within it. If
you 
have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately
by 
return email informing them of the mistake and delete all copies of the 
message from your computer system. 
______________________________________________________________________

References

Visible links
1. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...
2. http://www.apsc.gov.au/
4. https://twitter.com/PublicServiceAU
5. https://www.facebook.com/AusPublicService/

FOI, Australian Public Service Commission

7 Attachments

OFFICIAL

A decision notice is attached.

 

Regards

 

FOI OFFICER

Legal Services

 

Australian Public Service Commission

Level 4, B Block, Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, PARKES ACT 2600
GPO Box 3176 CANBERRA ACT 2601

 

t: 02 6202 3500  w: [1]www.apsc.gov.au        

[2]three hexagons[3]twitter icon [4]facebook
icon                          

 

 

 

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or legally
privileged information, and neither are waived or lost if the email has
been sent in error. If you have received this email in error, please
delete it (including any copies) and notify the sender. Please consult
with APSC Legal Services before using disclosing any part of this email or
attachments to a third party.

 

 

 

From: FOI <[email address]>
Sent: Wednesday, 15 June 2022 12:52 PM
To: [FOI #8877 email]
Cc: FOI <[email address]>
Subject: LEX 188 - Acknowledgement [SEC=OFFICIAL]

 

OFFICIAL

Dear Applicant

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) is writing to acknowledge
receipt of your request for internal review of FOI decision (reference LEX
84) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).

 

The timeframe for responding to your internal review request is 30 days
from the date of receipt. This timeframe for internal review may be
extended in very limited circumstances. You will be notified if these
circumstances arise and the timeframe is extended.

 

Your Internal Review request is as follows:

“Dear Australian Public Service Commission,

What a disappointing decision. I would have thought that the agency that
had the "important evaluation role in working with agencies to ensure that
the APS is performing effectively and consistently with the APS Values"
would have developed processes.

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Australian Public Service
Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Request for documents in relation
to the investigation of suspected breaches of s 65 of the PID Act, and
about prosecution of suspected offences'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this
address: [5]https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...

Yours faithfully,

Marcus”

Regards

FOI OFFICER

Legal Services

 

Australian Public Service Commission

Level 4, B Block, Treasury Building, Parkes Place West, PARKES ACT 2600
GPO Box 3176 CANBERRA ACT 2601

 

t: 02 6202 3500  w: [6]www.apsc.gov.au        

[7]three hexagons[8]twitter icon [9]facebook
icon                          

 

 

 

 

This email and any attachments may contain confidential or legally
privileged information, and neither are waived or lost if the email has
been sent in error. If you have received this email in error, please
delete it (including any copies) and notify the sender. Please consult
with APSC Legal Services before using disclosing any part of this email or
attachments to a third party.

 

 

______________________________________________________________________ 
IMPORTANT: This message, and any attachments to it, contains information 
that is confidential and may also be the subject of legal professional or 
other privilege. If you are not the intended recipient of this message,
you 
must not review, copy, disseminate or disclose its contents to any other 
party or take action in reliance of any material contained within it. If
you 
have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately
by 
return email informing them of the mistake and delete all copies of the 
message from your computer system. 
______________________________________________________________________

References

Visible links
1. http://www.apsc.gov.au/
3. https://twitter.com/PublicServiceAU
4. https://www.facebook.com/AusPublicService/
5. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/r...
6. http://www.apsc.gov.au/
8. https://twitter.com/PublicServiceAU
9. https://www.facebook.com/AusPublicService/