Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Questions without Notice: Additional Answers
Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to incorporate some additional information in relation to a question asked of me by Senator Bob Brown yesterday.
The document read as follows—
The delay in releasing information to Senator Brown was a Departmental error that was rectified as soon as it was discovered.
I am informed that on 28 January 2009 DEWHA provided to Senator Brown a number of documents relating to an FOI request seeking information on Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean gathered by the Oceanic Viking in the course of the Summer of 2007-08.
Not all the documents covered by the FOI application were released and a Statement of Reasons was provided to Senator Brown detailing the reasons for any exemptions.
I understand that the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs and Border Protection) has responded to a small number of FOI requests concerning Japanese whaling activities.
I understand one of these requests was transferred to Customs and Border Protection by DEWHA for response.
I am also informed that Customs and Border Protection was consulted on the FOI request made by Senator Brown.
As you would be aware, responsibility for the release of documents under the FOI Act lies with the Departmental Secretary or their delegate.
Importantly, under the Act, one agency’s decision on a FOI application does not bind another agency in relation to the same subject matter. Each FOI decision-maker must make a separate decision based on the law and all the facts of the case.