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Monday, 27 June 1994
Page: 2000

Senator BOLKUS —On 23 June 1994, Senator Vanstone asked a question in respect of an FOI application by Mr Christopher Skase, through his lawyers. I am informed that an FOI request was received from Clayton Utz, Skase's solicitors, in Brisbane on 31 January 1994. The Attorney-General's Department replied to Clayton Utz on 18 February 1994, notifying the lawyers that a fee of $185 would attach to the processing of the request with a deposit of $46.25 required as per the FOI Act. This fee was based on the department's estimate of time required to answer the request.

  On 21 February 1994, Clayton Utz requested that the fee be waived or be reduced to $70 because the information was personal to Mr Skase and that he had an inalienable right to such information, claiming that he was a person of limited financial means. On 22 March 1994, the Attorney-General's Department replied to Clayton Utz agreeing to reduce the fee to $70 because the information was personal to Skase. The sum of $70 was the maximum permissible for the provision of such personal information. In doing so, the department's response stated that consideration had been given to all the grounds he had claimed, amongst which was his claim of limited financial resources, but that this did not change the basic point that the charge was reduced because the request related to personal information.

  So, as a consequence, $70 was charged since that was the maximum permissible amount in relation to personal information requests under the schedule to the act. I must say in passing that it probably cost Mr Skase more than $100 to get that reduction.