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The selection report for the National Court Framework Registrar role - Vacancy N.N. 10690165

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Dear Federal Court of Australia,

I refer to an extract from an article (Untried junior lawyers score key Federal Court appointments) published in The Australian on 8 February 2022. The extract is set out below:

In late December 2020, Ms McMullan wrote to Ms Lagos to inform her she had found the recruitment process that led to the court promoting the woman had breached the Public Service Act because “all eligible members of the community were not given a reasonable opportunity to apply to perform the relevant duties”.

“(This is) because … if admission as a legal practitioner was not essential for performance of the role, listing it as an essential requirement in the advertisement
may have precluded other members of the community with the same qualifications as (the woman) from applying for the position.

Admission as a legal practitioner is listed as essential for performance of the role, but does not appear to have been considered as part of the selection process,” Ms McMullen wrote.

“(She) … was selected over a field of candidates all of whom did have this work-related quality.”

It has since come to light that the unmeritorious female candidate referred to by Ms McMullan is Caitlin Wu. A copy of Ms Wu's promotion notice was published on the Right to Know website (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/u...).

I would like access to the selection report prepared by the selection committee that selected Ms Caitlin Wu as the National Court Framework Registrar over a field of candidates all of whom were admitted as legal practitioners.

I want to know what the selection committee's reasons for selecting the unmeritorious candidate were.

Under the FOI Act I request access to the following documents:

a) the selection report for the National Court Framework Registrar role that Caitlin Wu was promoted to fill; and
b) the letter of offer provided to Ms Wu, dated 5 December 2016 (the existence of this letter was confirmed by Ms Giorgina Strangio of the APSC in a decision that she made on 8 April 2022).

Please do not redact any deliberative content set out in the selection committee's report because I want to know why Ms Wu was selected over the other candidates that Ms McMullan determined met the essential requirements for the National Court Framework Registrar role.

I invite you to redact the names of the unsuccessful candidates in the selection report.

Please do not redact Ms Caitlin Wu's name in any documents.

Please do not redact any dates in any of the documents.

Please do not redact the names and titles of the members of the selection committee in the selection report.

Please do not redact the signatures of Ms Sia Lagos and Mr David Pringle from any of the documents as their signatures are publicly available (Ms Lagos' signature is, among other places online, published in the annual reports of the Federal Court, and Mr Pringle's signature is published, among other places, on all orders of the Federal Circuit Court on Federal Law Search).

Yours faithfully,

Aiofe

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL
Dear Aiofe

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

2 Attachments

OFFICIAL
Dear Aiofe

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

Dear B Henderson,

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

I am writing to request a complete internal review of Federal Court of Australia's handling of my FOI request 'The selection report for the National Court Framework Registrar role - Vacancy N.N. 10690165'.

Your reasons are disingenuous.

Caitlin Wu was selected ahead of qualified candidates by the selection panel. You disclosed the fact that Caitlin Wu was the person promoted when you published her promotion notice on the Right to Know website (https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/u...).

Ms McMullan of the APSC found that:

a) "all eligible members of the community were not given a reasonable opportunity to apply to perform the relevant duties.”
b) “(This is) because … if admission as a legal practitioner was not essential for performance of the role, listing it as an essential requirement in the advertisement may have precluded other members of the community with the same qualifications as (the woman) from applying for the position."
c) "Admission as a legal practitioner is listed as essential for performance of the role, but does not appear to have been considered as part of the selection process."
d) Cailtin Wu "… was selected over a field of candidates all of whom did have this work-related quality.”

It is plainly the case that Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt selected Caitlin Wu, an unmeritorious candidate, ahead of the other meritorious candidates (see https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/u...). They selected Ms Wu, ahead of the other meritorious candidates, all of whom had the relevant qualification (i.e. admission to the Supreme Court of a State or Territory) on 2 December 2016. Sia Lagos, the agency head's delegate, endorsed the selection panel's recommendation (Ms Lagos being a member of that selection panel).

Your reasons for refusing to provide access to the deliberative content set out in the selection report are unconvincing. Plainly, Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt broke the law by selecting an meritorious candidate. Section 47E has not application to the deliberative conduct. While s 47C may apply, no reasonable person could contend that deliberations entered into to select an unmeritorious candidate ahead of meritorious candidates should be refused access to because the public interest lies in protecting the deliberations of people who have unlawfully selected an unmeritorious candidate for promotion. The public interest assessment that you have conducted and the reasons offered in support are appear to me to be the desperate attempts of an FOI officer to protect her superiors from embarrassment. However spun, that is not a permissible ground for refusing access to a documents that discloses the unlawful conduct of Sia Lagos, David Pringle and Andrea Jarratt.

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

I request that the person who does conduct the internal review, does so according to law and according to the terms of my FOI request.

Yours faithfully,

Aiofe

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

OFFICIAL
Dear Aiofe,

I acknowledge receipt of your request below for an internal review of the decision made by Ms Henderson on behalf of the Federal Court of Australia and dated 7 June 2022.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL
Dear Aiofe,

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

show quoted sections

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