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Unclassified email from Andrea Jarratt to Darrin Moy, Sia Lagos and David Pringle titled “Recruitment – Legal”

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Dear Federal Court of Australia,

On 18 April 2018, Andrea Jarratt sent an unclassified email to Darrin Moy. Sia Lagos and David Pringle were copied to that email. The title of the email is “Recruitment – Legal”.

The email reads as follows:

“Dear Darrin

Further to our discussion yesterday, please find attached the legal positions to be recruited …

As discussed, the framework for the recruitment process will include:

* Investigating, on an urgent basis, the option of an external recruiter being seconded to the Court to manage the entire recruitment process.
* Dedicated HR support to manage the recruitment arrangement and logistics (i.e. setting up interviews, being the scribe, drafting advertisements, placing positions in the Gazette).
* Extensive advertising of the positions (e.g. State Bar Association and Law Societies, legal section of national papers, Seek, Lawyers Weekly etc.).
* The panels for the positions will be a combination of Sia, David Catherine Krol and I, with an external person for the SES positions.

We will send you the job descriptions and advertising ‘overview piece’ to you (sic) on Monday.

I look forward to hearing from you with an update regarding the recruitment exercise.

Kind regards

Andrea

Andrea Jarratt | Director National Operations
National Operations Team | Federal Court of Australia”

Under the FOI Act, I request access to the unclassified email that Andrea Jarratt sent to Darrin Moy. Sia Lagos and David Pringle on 18 April 2018, with the title “Recruitment – Legal”.

Please provide the document to me by return email.

Yours faithfully,

Stephanie

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL
Dear Stephanie

Please find attached correspondence from the Federal Court of Australia.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

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Dear FOI Officer,

I am contesting the proposed charges you have listed in your letter.

You claim that search and retrieval of the documents took, or will take, 15 minutes. I do not think that to be the case. I have been very specific with my request. I identified the person who sent the email (Andrea Jarratt), the person to whom the email was sent (Darrin Moy), the date on which the email was sent (18 April 2018), the title of the email (Recruitment – Legal) and the classification of the email (unclassified).

It should not take 15 minutes to find the documents requested. I think five minutes would be more than adequate time. The cost of searching should be about $1.25.

According to the FOI Guidelines:

An agency should ensure that the notice to an applicant of a charge fully explains and justifies the charge. Implicit in the ‘lowest reasonable cost’ objective is the requirement for sound record keeping so that an agency’s documents can be readily identified and found when an FOI request is received.

According to the FOI Guidelines:

Agencies and ministers should interpret the ‘lowest reasonable cost’ objective broadly in imposing any charge under the FOI Act. That is, an agency or minister should have regard to the lowest reasonable cost to the applicant, to the agency or minister, and the Commonwealth as a whole. Where the cost of calculating and collecting a charge might exceed the cost to the agency of processing the request, it may generally be more appropriate not to impose a charge.

Let it be conservatively assumed that the FOI Officer who prepared the charge estimate letter and the invoice is paid $40 per hour (including superannuation and leave entitlements). Let it be very generously assumed that it took the FOI Officer 10 minutes to:

a) calculate the charges to be requested;
b) prepare the charge estimate letter; and
c) dispatch the documents by email.

It would have cost the Commonwealth $6.67 for the FOI Officer to do that.

The cost of calculating and collecting the charge exceeds the reasonable cost to the agency of searching for the documents.

Accordingly, the proposed search charge is inappropriate.

I requested the following documents:

a) the written document giving effect to the contract of employment between the Commonwealth and Linda Potter, the wife of Wayne Potter, the general manager at Sydney Ferries; and
b) the independent flexibility arrangement Linda Potter signed.

You claim that it will take an estimated 5 hours and 15 minutes to examine the documents, consult about the documents, make a decision and prepare a response. I do not think, by any objective measure, the time and cost estimate for the consideration of the FOI request can be justified. I believe that the estimated time to process the request has been calculated with the cynical motive of erecting artificial hurdles to access by attempting to extract payment for access to a one page document. That is unjustifiable. It would not take more than 5 hours for a competent and reasonably efficient public servant to process this FOI request. The proposed charge for the processing of the FOI request is unjustified.

The charges should be rescinded as they are unjustifiable and are, in my opinion, nothing more than an attempt to erect artificial hurdles for access to a document that is constitutes a national resource.

I do not think that the Information Commissioner would look favourably on any attempt to extract payment for the requested document, and, in my opinion, will agree with my view that the estimated time to process the request has been calculated with the cynical motive of erecting artificial hurdles to access.

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie

External FOI, Federal Court of Australia

OFFICIAL
Dear Stephanie

I acknowledge receipt of your email below contesting the charges as advised by letter from the Federal Court of Australia dated 28 November 2022 in relation to your FOI request of 14 November 2022.

Kind regards

FOI Officer
Federal Court of Australia

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