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Monday, November 10, 2008

Procedural complexities of FOI on public display

South Australian readers might find this relatively rare District Court Freedom of Information decision(Treglown v South Australian Police) concerning an application to the Police (SAPOL), an internal review by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), and a disputed request for an advance deposit, of interest. Others might scratch their heads about the procedural contortions involved, as summarised here by Judge Cole[31]:
"The position now, in this matter, following the concession by the respondent that the request for the fee was not a valid request under s 17, is that there is in existence a deemed confirmation by the internal review officer of SAPOL’s deemed refusal of Mr Treglown’s application for access to documents. Mr Treglown has applied to the PCA for a review of that deemed confirmation of the deemed refusal by SAPOL, and the PCA has declined jurisdiction in relation to that application. The PCA declined jurisdiction on the basis of his opinion that a valid request for a fee had been made by SAPOL of the appellant. The parties have now agreed that the request for the fee was not valid. In these circumstances, it seems to me that the most appropriate course is to set aside the PCA’s decision that he does not have jurisdiction and remit the matter to the PCA in order that he may now review the deemed refusal by SAPOL in relation to the application for access to documents."

Everyone clear on all that?

The applicant may have been relieved that Judge Cole noted" that Ms Charlesworth(counsel for SAPOL) said in Court that, were the matter to be remitted to the PCA, SAPOL would not seek to have the PCA refer the matter back to SAPOL," and recommended that the PCA deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible.

On the other hand the applicant is no doubt mightily frustrated by the fact that the FOI application was lodged in July 2007, and is yet to get past first base.

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