Here is the Office of the Australian Information Commisioner's (OAIC's) "judgement" against granting our FOI request to obtain the names and contact details of all these Aussie GPs on half medicare: thus stopping us banding together to fight for our rights!!
Please read on - if you have the stomach! (This text is taken from http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/AICmr/2014/103.html )
‘CZ’ and Department of Health  AICmr 103 (30 September 2014)
Last Updated: 2 October 2014
‘CZ’ and Department of Health  AICmr 103 (30 September 2014)
Department of Health
30 September 2014
[N]ames and contact details of all those General Practitioners (GPs) who are designated under Medicare as “Non-Vocationally Registered”. (i.e.; they are known as ‘Non-VR GPs.)
On the material before me, I am not satisfied that payment of a charge would cause you financial hardship. However, I will reduce the charge for your request by 50% in good faith based on the circumstances you have outlined. Should you wish a further reduction of the charges, you will need to provide the Department with evidence to support your financial hardship claim.
Decision under review
Scope of review
The FOI Decision maker purports – “There is no document.” In fact my wife (who phoned the (then) FOI Coordinator...was informed there is in fact such a document. [emphasis in original] It appears the Department is trying to say there is no document in an effort to deny me accessing this information.
[The applicant’s] FOI request was for “names and contact details of all [emphasis in original] those general practitioner (GPs) who are designated under Medicare as “Non-Vocationally Registered” (emphasis added). There is, [sic] and never has been, a document which contains the names and addresses of all [emphasis in original] non-vocationally registered GPs. In processing [the applicant’s] request the Department took into account the fact that, while the FOI Act provides for a right of access to documents...as distinct from information, it was obliged under subsection 17(1) to consider producing, by use of a computer, a document being a compilation of all [emphasis in original] non-vocationally registered GPs.
[The Department’s] letter to me of the 21st February 2012 specified a number of 4150 GPs [emphasis in original]...
How could the Department possibly have known there are 4150 GPs in this “non-VR” category...without knowing the details of the GPs involved?? [emphasis in original]
Our information technology officers inform us that a computer programme [sic] could be written to enable retrieval from the relevant Midiare [sic] related databases of the names and addresses of non-vocationally registered GPs. It is estimated that it would take approximately two (2) to four (4) hours to write such a programme [sic] and run the programme [sic] to produce a list of non-vocationally registered GPs...
The information contained in the databases from which any list of non-vocationally registered GPs would be drawn is information acquired by the Department in the course of performing functions under the National Health Act 1953 (NHA). Subsection 135A(1) of the NHA makes it a criminal offence to disclose such information except in the performance of functions generally under the NHA. Section 135A is a so-called “secrecy provision”, subsections (1), (4) and (9) of which are listed in Schedule 3 of the FOI Act. If a list of non-vocationally registered GP’s were to be produced by writing and running a programme [sic] as described above, the list would be an exempt document under section 38 of the FOI Act.
Whether reasonable steps taken to find a document (s 24A)
24A Request may be refused if documents cannot be found, do not exist or have not been received
Document lost or non-existent
(1) An agency or Minister may refuse a request for access to a document if:
(a) all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document; and
(b) the agency or Minister is satisfied that the document:
(i) is in the agency’s or Minister’s possession but cannot be found; or
(ii) does not exist.
The Information Commissioner considers that, as a minimum, an agency should conduct a search by using existing technology and infrastructure to conduct an electronic search of documents, as well as making enquiries of those who may be able to help locate the documents.
Requests involving the use of computers (s 17)
17 Requests involving use of computers etc.
(c) the agency could produce a written document containing the information in discrete form by:
(i) the use of a computer or other equipment that is ordinarily available to the agency for retrieving or collating stored information; ...
the agency shall deal with the request as if it were a request for access to a written document so produced and containing that information and, for that purpose, this Act applies as if the agency had such a document in its possession.
[I]f the agency could produce a written document through the use of certain hardware and/or software that would meet the particulars of a request, it should do so (s 17(1)(c)(i)). In these cases, the agency must deal with the request as if it were a request for access to the written document and the FOI Act applies as if the agency had such a document in its possession (s 17(1)).
In our view, a computer might in some cases be ordinarily available within the meaning of s 17(1)(c)(i) even if a new computer program were required in order for the computer to produce the requested document. The agency might, for example, routinely commission or retain staff to produce new computer programs of the necessary kind.
Submissions by the Department
Is the computer ordinarily available?
The documents requested by Collection Point were not capable of being produced by the ATO by the use of a computer, being a use that is ordinarily available to the ATO for retrieving and collating stored information. Instead, to answer the request, the ATO would have been required to use a computer in an extraordinary manner, as compared to the ordinary processes available for the retrieval and collation of such material. Put simply, the ATO would be required to use a computer in a manner other than that which is ordinarily available to it.
These comments subsequently received the approval of the Full Court.
Documents to which secrecy provisions of enactments apply (s 38)
38 Documents to which secrecy provisions of enactments apply
(1) Subject to subsection (1A), a document is an exempt document if:
(a) disclosure of the document, or information contained in the document, is prohibited under a provision of an enactment; and
(i) that provision is specified in Schedule 3;
A person shall not, directly or indirectly, except in the performance of duties, or in the exercise of powers or functions, under this Act or for the purpose of enabling a person to perform functions in relation to a medicare program or under the indemnity legislation or the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Act 2012 (whether as a delegate or otherwise), and while the person is, or after the person ceases to be, an officer, divulge or communicate to any person, any information with respect to the affairs of a third person acquired by the first-mentioned person in the performance of duties, or in the exercise of powers or functions, under this Act.
Penalty: $5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.
[T]he secrecy argument is not valid where information is with a prescribed professional body. And it certainly is. The authority overseeing “vr” GPs certainly knows details of who the so-called “non-vr”.
A person’s right of access to a document under section 11 or 22 is not affected merely because the document is an exempt document under subsection (1) of this section if disclosure of the document, or information contained in the document, to that person is not prohibited by the enactment concerned or any other enactment.
Responding to an FOI application
Acting Freedom of Information Commissioner
30 September 2014
If a party to an IC review is unsatisfied with an IC review decision, they may apply under s 57A of the FOI Act to have the decision reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The AAT provides independent merits review of administrative decisions and has power to set aside, vary, or affirm an IC review decision.
An application to the AAT must be made within 28 days of the day on which the applicant is given the IC review decision (s 29(2) of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975). An application fee may be payable when lodging an application for review to the AAT. The current application fee is $861, which may be reduced or may not apply in certain circumstances. Further information is available on the AAT’s website (www.aat.gov.au) or by telephoning 1300 366 700.
 Collection Point Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation  FCA 720 .
 The Freedom of Information Commissioner discussed the effect of these provisions in ‘A’ and Department of Health and Ageing  AICmr 4 -.