Accountability

Freedom of information

In accordance with the Australian Government requirement for agencies to be open and transparent with regard to the functions they perform and the information they hold, the Registrar’s website includes an information publishing plan for ORIC and a freedom of information (FOI) disclosure log.

In 2016–17:

  • 16 FOI requests were made to the Registrar, compared to 66 in 2015–16
  • 26 FOI requests and three requests for internal review were finalised.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) advised ORIC of receipt of an Australian Information Commissioner review application in respect of an internal review decision notified in December 2016. ORIC provided its response to the OAIC on 17 March 2017 and was awaiting advice from the OAIC regarding the outcome of its review.

Complaints about ORIC

ORIC responds to complaints about its staff and contractors in accordance with policy statement PS 03: Complaints about the Registrar’s staff and contractors. During 2016–17, eight complaints about staff were received, compared to two complaints received the year before. All but one of the complaints were resolved by 30 June. The remaining complaint was received verbally on 27 June 2017 and written details had not been provided by 30 June 2017. In all cases, the complainant was notified of the outcome within 20 business days in accordance with our service standard.

In 2016–17 ORIC received five ‘section 8’ notices from the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Under the Ombudsman Act 1976, the Ombudsman requested information from ORIC to help investigate complaints made to the Ombudsman about ORIC. The Registrar responded to all issues raised in the Ombudsman’s notices and in all five instances, the Ombudsman advised that no further investigations were warranted.

Legal services expenditure

The tables that follow are a statement of legal services expenditure by ORIC for 2016–17 and provided in order to comply with paragraph 11.1(ba) of the Commonwealth’s Legal Services Directions 2017.

Table 24: Expenditure on legal services and legal service providers 2016–17
Internal legal services expenditure $ GST exclusive
Total internal legal services expenditure 249,547.00
External legal services expenditure $ GST inclusive
Professional fees:  
—Australian Government Solicitor 24,661.95
—Minter Ellison 153,510.76
—Taylor David Lawyers 2,200.00
Total professional fees paid 180,372.71
Counsel briefs 16,963.49
Other disbursements on external legal services 16,843.79
Total external legal services expenditure 214,179.99

Note: Internal legal services expenditure was derived through estimates of the percentage of time spent by legally qualified staff on legal work. Expenditure was calculated using base salaries and overheads.

Table 25: Briefs to counsel 2016–17
Number of counsel briefed  
Number of male counsel briefed 2
Number of female counsel briefed 1
Value of counsel briefs  
Value of briefs to male counsel (GST inclusive) $13,963.49
Value of briefs to female counsel (GST inclusive) $3,000.00