FOI – Head of Power

FOI23154 – FOI Decision Letter and Attachment A (complete letter)

Freedom of information request FOI23/154 – Decision letter
The purpose of this letter is to give you a decision about your request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) which you submitted to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) and which was transferred under s 16 to the Attorney-General’s Department (the department).

Your request

You made an FOI request to PMC on 7 March 2023 in the following terms

I seek the law made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, binding on all the courts, judges and people of every State and every part of the Commonwealth for the valid creation of a title for the King to adopt in relation to Australia and its Territories.

I seek the document or instrument containing the enumerated head of power to create the Act known as the Royal Styles and Titles, made under the constitution, binding on all the courts, judges and people of every State and every part of the Commonwealth.

On 8 March 2023 the department accepted transfer of your request from PMC.

On 20 March 2023 the department acknowledged your request.

A decision for your request is due by 6 April 2023.

My decision

I am an officer authorised under section 23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in relation to freedom of information requests made to the department.

In making my decision, I have taken the following into account:

the terms of your request

advice provided to me by officers with responsibility for matters to which your request relates

the provisions of the FOI Act, and

the Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under section 93A of the FOI Act
(the Guidelines).

Section 24A of the FOI Act relevantly provides that an agency or Minister may refuse a request for access to a document if all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document and the agency is satisfied that the document:
is in the agency’s possession but cannot be found, or

does not exist.

When considering a decision to refuse access under section 24A of the FOI Act, the Guidelines relevantly
provide at paragraph 3.89 that an agency or minister should take comprehensive steps to locate documents, having regard to:

the subject matter of the documents

the current and past file management systems and the practice of destruction or removal of documents

the record management systems in place

the individuals within an agency or minister’s office who may be able to assist with the location of documents, and

the age of the documents.

To identify the documents for your request, I arranged for staff likely to be able to identify documents to undertake comprehensive searches of relevant departmental information holdings. In particular, a departmental staff member with responsibility for processing FOI requests interrogated the department’s records management system using search terms which were developed with reference to the information provided in the scope of your request. Despite these efforts, no relevant documents were identified.

Having regard to the above, I am satisfied that reasonable steps to locate the documents to which you have sought access were undertaken. I am also satisfied that the documents do not exist within the department’s records holdings. I have therefore decided to refuse access pursuant to section 24A of the FOI Act.