As reported in The Australian Vietnam veteran Don Tate also "questioned the faith Australians could place in accounts of the nation’s military history. He claimed a number of omissions by The Australian War Memorial, including the existence of one platoon he fought in, had led to further stress over the subsequent years."
|Private Don Tate, Vietnam-ABC 7.30 Report|
Mr Tate referred to Administrative Appeals Tribunal Freedom of Information proceedings in which the Australian War Memorial refused him access to information sought about the "D&E Platoon” in which he served, and claims by others in the light of the secrecy that he had lied about his participation in the Vietnam War.
The decision he referred to is Tate and Director Australian War Memorial  AATA 107
handed down by Deputy President Tamberlin in February.
The Tribunal upheld the agency decision that the work involved in dealing with two applications by Mr Tate would involve substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources. The evidence was that one application would require at least 150 hours of processing time after taking into account the work involved in producing 90 documents already furnished to the Applicant and at least 48 hours for the second application.
(The issue about the D&E platoon seems to be whether it existed as a discrete unit. It has been widely canvassed previously.)
I'm sympathetic to Mr Tate's cause, the more so as he represented himself in the case, up against the Australian Government Solicitor's office, but the Tribunal decision on substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources appears sound.
All inclusive applications unbounded by time periods such as these (see below) will always raise the substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources question. Mr Tate declined the opportunity to narrow his applications other than exclude his own correspondence when properly consulted about ways the requests might be revised in an attempt to remove the practical refusal reason.
The FOI act (s 24AA (3)) provides that in deciding such matters no regard is to be had to any reasons that the applicant gives for requesting access so Mr Tate's submissions in this regard were not considered.
Here are examples of how to run into difficulty if FOI requests are framed in the broadest catch all terms, difficulties that arise even before the agency dives into the exemption provisions: