Uranium Sales To India

Evelyn Doyle made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The request was successful.

From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear FOI Coordinator
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

I am seeking the following documents under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982.

1. All ministerial correspondence and briefs prepared for, and signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Bob Carr MP and the Minister for Trade, the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP in relation to sales of uranium to India;

2. Any documents, advice or reports received about risk management issues regarding sales of uranium to India, particularly those around safeguards and basis that India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty; and

3. A copy of the Indian auditor-general report which described concerns in the safety standards for nuclear facilities provided to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Thank you in advance for your assistance with this request.

Yours faithfully,

Evelyn Doyle

Link to this

From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Our Ref: 1210-F432

Dear Ms Doyle

Re: Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

Thank you for your email dated 16 October 2012 in which you seek access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 to:

1. All ministerial correspondence and briefs prepared for, and signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Bob Carr MP and the Minister for Trade, the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP in relation to sales of uranium to India;
2. Any documents, advice or reports received about risk management issues regarding sales of uranium to India, particularly those around safeguards and basis that India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty; and
3. A copy of the Indian auditor-general report which described concerns in the safety standards for nuclear facilities provided to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Searches are now being undertaken in relevant areas of the Department for documents relevant to your request. I will contact you again once the searches have been completed.

Scope of request:
If it emerges that the scope of your request is unclear or is too large for processing, the Department will contact you to discuss re-scoping the request.

Timing of release:
As the subject matter of your request will require DFAT to upload any documents released to you to the Department’s FOI Disclosure Log, I take this opportunity to advise you that the Department’s policy is to upload released documents within 24 hours of your receipt of the documents.
Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned, the case officer, on (02) 6261 3470 or by return email.

Please note a copy of this email has been sent to Mr David Yardley, Director, Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section, Domestic Legal Branch for his information.

Yours sincerely

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

Thank you for your quick response.

Please feel free to contact me should you require any clarification regarding the scope of the request.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle,

Would you be able to provide a phone number we could call to clarify one aspect of your request?

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

Thank you for discussing my FOI request by phone today.

As agreed, I will revise the second part of the request to make it more clear exactly which documents I am seeking in relation to the issues of safeguards and signatory to the Treaty.

I will revise the terms and write back to you as soon as possible

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

Please note my revision for part two of my original FOI request.

2. All briefings prepared for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Bob Carr and the Minister for Trade the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP which outline risks in selling uranium to India, specifically relating to safeguards and the fact India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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Evelyn Doyle left an annotation ()

I mistakenly referred to Senator Carr as an MP in the original letter.

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle,

Many thanks for sending this revised scope of part 2 of your FOI request. I have passed it to the relevant line area.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: Cheung, Ada
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Doyle charges letter.pdf
82K Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Doyle,

Please find attached the charges letter relating to your FOI request 1210-F432.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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Evelyn Doyle left an annotation ()

This letter imposes charges of $2,423.04 to be paid within 30 days unless applicant proves financial hardship or greater public interest in releasing the material. The applicant can contend the charge has been wrongly assessed, agree to pay the charge or withdraw.

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung and Ms Gorely

Thank you for your recent letter relating to my FOI request in which you advise charges to be $2,423.04.

This is a very high cost for access to public information. I contend that the information is in the greater public interest and thus should be free on that basis.

The OAIC website notes 'the FOI Act lists certain factors favouring access in the public interest. Factors favouring disclosure include:
•promotion of the objects of the FOI Act
•informing debate on matters of public importance.'

And;

'Decision makers are now required to address the public interest factors taken into account when they give reasons for their decision.'

I believe there is a wide public interest in uranium sales to India not only limited to Australian citizens. The OAIC actively promotes a pro-disclosure culture as encouraged by this government's FOI reforms.

In addition I am simply not in a financial position to meet these high costs to access public information.

I would like to ask that the fees be waived on this basis.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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Matthew Landauer left an annotation ()

It might also help to include the fact that the result of your request will be published on this site for anyone to see. That should help prove that it is in the public interest.

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung and Ms Gorely

Further to my recent letter requesting a waiver of fees I wish to add that the results of this FOI request will be published on the Right to Know website, and as such will fulfill the public interest test to a high degree.

Thank you for your assistance with processing this request.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle

In view of the significant charges associated with your FOI request as it stands, I would suggest it would be valuable for us to discuss the request to see whether it can be refined in a way which would still meet your requirements while ensuring you are not charged for material which is of little or no interest to you.

Could you please either provide a telephone number on which I can reach you, or telephone me on the number below at your convenience?

I look forward to speaking soon

Kind regards

David Yardley

Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
International Organisations and Legal Division

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

+61 2 6261 2948

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Evelyn Doyle left an annotation ()

I spoke with David Yardley today and he provided some useful advice regarding refining the request further to exclude, for example, documents prepared for Cabinet which would be fully redacted or exempted under the Act. Mr Yardley also provided some advice on narrowing down particularly in relation to PPQs (possible parliamentary questions) which are tweaked regularly and end up producing a large number of papers essentially saying the same thing. Mr Yardley is going back to the line area and will call me or email his advice so I can further refine the request.

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle

Following our useful conversation on 14 November, I have discussed your FOI request with the relevant line area, and have, as promised, some suggestions which aim to reflect your targeted interest with regard to this issue and would substantially reduce the charges to you associated with processing the request.

You may wish to consider re-scoping your request along the following lines:

1. All ministerial correspondence and briefs prepared for, and signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Bob Carr MP and the Minister for Trade, the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP in relation to sales of uranium to India; and
2. Briefings prepared for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Bob Carr and the Minister for Trade the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP which outline risks in selling uranium to India, specifically relating to safeguards and the fact India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. From the set of Possible Parliamentary Question briefs, only the most comprehensive and most recent briefings should be provided.

This request excludes exempt Cabinet documents and legal advice.

With regard to the third part of your original request, I have been advised that the Indian Auditor General’s Report on the safety standards of nuclear facilities is publicly available at: http://saiindia.gov.in/english/home/Our_...

Please advise us if you would be happy to pursue the revised scope outlined above. In line with s29(f)(iii) of the FOI Act, if you would like to pursue this revised scope, will the original request will be taken to be withdrawn and we will proceed with the above as a fresh request.

Please let me know if it would be useful to discuss any aspect further - I'm on 02 6261 2948.

Kind regards

David Yardley

Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
International Organisations and Legal Division

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

+61 2 6261 2948

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Mr Yardley

Thank you for your recent letter outlining suggestions for refining the FOI request. Subsequently, please consider my original request withdrawn. I have followed your advice and now sumbit a new revised request as follows:

1. All ministerial correspondence and briefs prepared for, and signed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Bob Carr MP and the Minister for Trade, the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP in relation to sales of uranium to India; and

2. Briefings prepared for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Bob Carr and the Minister for Trade the Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP which outline risks in selling uranium to India, specifically relating to safeguards and the fact India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. From the set of Possible Parliamentary Question briefs, only the most comprehensive and most recent briefings should be provided.

Naturally, I do not seek exempt Cabinet documents or legal advice.

Thank you for referring me to the Indian Auditor General's Report via your link. I sumbit that part of the request to be completed.

Please feel free to contact me should you require any more information.

Thanks again for your advice. It was very helpful in narrowing down the terms.

Yours sincerely

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Doyle letter.pdf
38K Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Doyle,

Please find attached a letter confirming the outcome of your request 1210-F432, and acknowledgement of the new FOI request as re-scoped.

I would also be grateful for your advice on how this letter should be posted on the Right to Know website. Do we use the 'respond to request' link?

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

Thank you for your acknowledgment.

The letter displays on the site when you reply. You are able to view it via the website link: www.righttoknow.org.au under DFAT heading.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment img Z11111108.pdf
84K Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Doyle,

Please find attached the charges letter in relation to your revise FOI request F458.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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Henare Degan left an annotation ()

The "preliminary assessment of the [charges]" is $362.11.

It's interesting to note that there's no breakdown of those charges. Is it just staff time and if so how many person hours?

@Evelyn - I'd definitely apply for a waiving of charges as access to these documents is in the public interest. Also remember to note in your application that the documents will be immediately published on Right To Know as evidence of the public interest nature of your request.

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

Thank you for your recent letter in which a charge of $362.11 has been imposed.

I wish to request that the fees be waived completely (ie. that they not be imposed) in view of the special public interest that uranium sales to India has generated particularly in relation to concerns over safeguards and that India is not a signatory to the Non-proliferation Treaty. Both these aspects of uranium sales meet the public interest test to a high degree not only here in Australia, but are of wider global interest.

The documents released through this request will also be published on the 'Right To Know' website effectively sharing the information immediately with others in the community. I would submit that this adds weight to the public interest test in relation to fees.

Yours sincerely

Evelyn Doyle

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Evelyn Doyle left an annotation ()

@Henare I hope the department agrees with the assessment of this topic being in the public interest and have added your notes as advised earlier. It would be difficult to imagine this subject being categorised as not in the public interest given the implications of nuclear safety.

It seems a lot of money for scanning, printing and/or photocopying given most documents in the APS are now scanned and housed permanently in databases. Decision making time should be minimal given this government's election commitment to transparency.

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Doyle revised charges letter.pdf
114K Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Doyle,

Please find attached the response to your request for waiver of charges in relation to FOI request 1211-F458.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

Thank you for forwarding the most recent correspondence from the decision maker, Mr Yardley in relation to fees.

Could I please clarify one aspect in regard to a phrase on page two which reads: "...request a review of my access refusal decision".

Does this refer specifically to the processing charges, now reduced by 50% to $181.00, or does it refer to an intention to deny access or partial access?

Thanks in advance for any clarification.

Yours sincerely

Evelyn Doyle

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Evelyn Doyle left an annotation ()

The revised letter has reduced the charges by 50% to $181.00. Interesting to note the difference between 'of' public interest and 'in' the public interest. This letter acknowledges the release of information about uranium sales to India adds to the public discussion but also refers to documents which outline the government's already known position. The fee covers processing but I will not know what information is to be released until payment of at least a deposit of $45.25.

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle,

Apologies for what seems to be a template glitch.

The review rights referred to pertain to My Yardley's decision to reduce the charges by 50%. No decision has been made to date regarding the potential release of the documents in question.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung
Thank you for the clarification.

While I still contend there should be no fees imposed for this public interest information, considering the safety aspects and other concerns, I will forward payment to expedite matters.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: Cheung, Ada
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle,
 
Thank you for the credit card authorisation for the payment of the deposit
of charges for your FOI request.  This is currently being processed by the
National Cashier. 
 
However, could you please confirm how you would like us to send the
receipt from this transaction to you?  In particular, we are concerned
that sending a scanned copy of the receipt to your Right to Know e-mail
address might result in your credit details being automatically posted on
the internet, since we understand that all correspondence from the agency
is automatically posted on the Right to Know website.  If so, you may wish
to provide us with an alternative postal or e-mail address to which to
send the receipt.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel:  +61 2 6261 3470
Fax:  +61 2 6261 2144
 
 

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

I do not require a formal written receipt from the National Cashier. Your correspondence of 8 January 2013 acknowledges receipt of the deposit and is sufficient for my purposes.

Thanks in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

I have not had any response as yet from DFAT since my payment and acknowledgment of receipt. I wonder if you could update me on the progress of my FOI request.

Thanks in advance.

Yours sincerely

Evelyn Doyle

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From: Cheung, Ada
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle,

We are in the final administrative stages of preparing your documents for release on 25 January, within the statutory timeframe.

I note in this regard that the information on Right to Know is incorrect. The Right to Know website currently states that 'Response to this request is delayed. By law, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should normally have responded promptly and by January 10, 2013'.

As you are aware, DFAT issued a charges notice on 11/12/2012 - at which point the statutory clock for the processing period was suspended (see s 31 of the FOI Act). After your request for a reduction of charges on 12/12/2012, we advised you of the outcome on 17/12/2012. Your credit card authorisation for payment of the deposit was received (by post) on 07/01/2013, at which point the statutory clock re-started (see s 31(2)(b)).

Accordingly, the statutory deadline for processing this request is 25/01/2013. I have sent a message to Right to Know with the above information, but the timeline has not been corrected to date.

Please feel free to phone me if you would like any further information.

Yours sincerely,

Ada Cheung
Executive Officer
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Law Branch
International Law Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tel: +61 2 6261 3470
Fax: +61 2 6261 2144

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Cheung

Thank you for your recent correspondence. I will advise the website administrators of the correct statutory deadline.

Regards

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment 1212 F458 Decision Letter and Schedule.pdf
100K Download View as HTML


FOI Ref: 1212-F458

Dear Ms Doyle

Please find attached the decision letter and schedule of documents for your FOI request regarding sales of uranium to India.

As we have not yet received payment of the balance of charges from you, we have not attached the actual documents captured by your request. The Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982 provide that the relevant FOI charge must be paid by the applicant before access to the documents is granted (see Regulation 11(1) available at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2010C0....

Once we have received the balance of charges from you ($135.75), we will be able to release the documents to you.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Kind regards

Ruth Hill
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Ph: 6261 2358 Fax: 6261 2144
Part-time: Tues - Thurs

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Hill
Thank you for your response to my FOI request. Please take the remaining monies owing, $135.75 from my credit card. Your National Cashier has the details as supplied from the initial deposit. You may accept this as my consent to charge the remaining monies owed.

To save any extra work on your part I would like all the documents without any deletions or redactions. I am happy to accept the documents in their entirety even 'irrelevant' details. All information relating to this matter is relevant for me even if not specifically targeted by my original wording.

Thanks in advance for your efforts in processing this request.

Yours sincerely

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment Doyle Credit Card Payment Authorisation.docx
261K Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Doyle

Thank you for your email. I have attached the relevant credit card payment authorisation form to this email. We will need to receive the signed authorisation from you before we can charge your credit card for the outstanding amount.

I confirm that the s22 (1)(a)(ii) redactions identified by the decision maker stand and the documents will be released to you with those redactions intact.

Kind regards

Ruth Hill
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Ph: 6261 2358 Fax: 6261 2144
Part-time: Tues - Thurs

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Hill

Thank you for forwarding the authorisation form. I will complete it and forward it to you as soon as possible.

May I please request that the documents be released without redactions. I am happy to accept them in their entirety even if aspects are considered irrelevant. I think it is an important aspect of transparency on this issue and is in the public interest.

If this is not possible may I initiate a new request that would include the redacted content or it may be easier and more efficient for DFAT to regard this letter as an addendum to the original request to save you additional work.

Thank you for any advice.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Dear Ms Doyle

Thank you for your email. As per my earlier email, the decision maker has made his decision on these documents and the s22 (1)(a)(ii) redactions identified by him stand. As such, the documents will be released to you with those redactions intact.

If you would like to initiate a new request, we will of course process that in accordance with usual procedures.

Kind regards

Ruth Hill
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Ph: 6261 2358 Fax: 6261 2144
Part-time: Tues - Thurs

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Hill

I have posted the payment authorisation, hopefully it will get to you by early next week.

Thanks for the clarification regarding redactions, it is a pity this process cannot be simplified, however I will submit a new request once I receive the documents which will enable me to use the correct document references.

Yours sincerely

Evelyn Doyle

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From: Evelyn Doyle

Delivered

Dear Ms Hill
Thank you for forwarding the documents. I was a little concerned, given this is an online site, that my partial credit card details were posted.

Previous correspondence from DFAT also reflected concerns over privacy which was solved by my acceptance of the acknowledgment in their correspondence. As stated at that time this was sufficient receipt for my purposes.

This may be worth considering in future FOI applications. I have asked the Right to Know administrators to delete the receipt attachment.

Thanks again for your efforts.

Yours sincerely,

Evelyn Doyle

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Evelyn Doyle left an annotation ()

Some of the documents were redacted under 'relevancy' provisions.

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From: FOI
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Attachment 1212 F458 Documents for Release.pdf
6.5M Download View as HTML


Dear Ms Doyle

Thank you for your payment authorisation.

Please find attached the documents referred to in the decision letter sent to you on 24 January.

Kind regards

Ruth Hill
Freedom of Information and Privacy Law Section
Domestic Legal Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Ph: 6261 2358 Fax: 6261 2144
Part-time: Tues - Thurs

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Matthew Landauer left an annotation ()

The original email containing the partial credit card details has been redacted. The response was then resent without the attachment containing the credit card details

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade only: