The Victorian Freedom of Information Commissioner
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We do not live in a democracy and we are not allowed to see why our regulator of Lawyers is dysfunctional. How dare you Peasants even try to ask.
To the Victorian Freedom of Information Commissioner.
Diarmuid Hannigan 236 Smith Street Collingwood. Victoria 3066 03 94195044 charada@mira,net Saturday 10th of May 2014
To Lynne Bertolini The Freedom of Information Commissioner
Re enquiry for a review ref 14/0899
Thank you for your response of 10 04 2014.
It appears from your assessment that the responsibilities for the release of the documents I seek are determined by the Ombudsman Act 1973.
I understand that the documents were released to the Victorian Attorney General as they pertain to the performance of the Office of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner. Since these documents contain 28 recommendations as to where the Office of the Victorian Legal Services required improvement of its performance, the report must be available to a bevy of members of the legal profession.
It goes without saying that without access to that report:
- The lawyers who have been delegated to improve the performance of the Office of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner could not do their jobs.
- That it is unfair to our community to allow one section of the community who has been found to be failing, access to information, that is being denied to another section of the community who has suffered under the failings of the legal regulator.
As previously mentioned, and I reiterate:
The Victorian Ombudsman dedicated two pages in his 2009 annual report to this report.
It appears as if the Ombudsman at the time of writing and publishing his annual report was of the opinion that this report would be tabled to parliament and would be made available for public viewing and comment otherwise it would be logical to assume he would not have dedicated so much emphasis to it in his annual report of 2009.
After the Attorney General received the report a decision must have been made to bury the report. I can only assume that pressure was brought to bear by the legal fraternity!
“I made 28 recommendations to the Legal Services Commissioner and am pleased to note that it has taken steps to address a number of problems identified in my own motion investigation. I intend to review the Legal Services Commissioner’s implementation of my recommendations over the next year. I also referred the report of my investigation to the Attorney-General for his information, particularly in relation to the inability of the Legal Services Commissioner to reopen cases on the basis of merits.’”
This report impacts upon the way the lawyer regulator`s office performs its duties in the public interest. As we all know it is important when dealing with any profession`s performance, that the regulator must perform its duties effectively, to ensure that the profession`s standards are maintained to a satisfactory level. This is essential when dealing with the legal profession; as tardy operators can have devastating effects upon Victorian families. Failure to address poor service within any profession or industry tends eventually to lower the standards of the whole industry; any person familiar with organizational structures involving people knows this.
My initial inquiry under freedom of information was placed to The Attorney Generals Department, as I am aware that the department has this document. If The Attorney Generals Department is doing its job properly, it will have distributed this document to members of the legal profession, so as to implement the 28 recommendations contained within the report. No small task requiring a large number of lawyers who have to communicate to their profession the need for the improvements. After all this is the legal regulator and how the regulator operates, impacts upon the industry. Therefore if the system is working and the report has been implemented instead of being buried it must be widely available in the legal community. If that is not so and the report has been buried this presents an even bigger problem.
The Attorney General`s Department referred my inquiry to The Victorian Ombudsman, stating it was the responsibility of the Ombudsman. The transfer from the Attorney Generals Department to The Ombudsman`s Office got lost and after 45 days was found. The Ombudsman`s office then responded using the legal collywobbles to deny access to the report.
The problem I have with all of this miss mash is as follows.
The Ombudsman writes a report on The Victorian Legal Services Commissioner in 2009 and discovers the office is a kibosh; He makes 28 recommendations in his report and referred the report to The Attorney General for his information. The Victorian Ombudsman openly mentions all of this in his 2009 Annual Report. Surely at that point in time the document when referred to the Attorney General and the Attorney General being the head lawyer and the report concerns the dysfunctionality of the body that he is responsible for, the onus of how that report is treated under freedom of information passes to The Attorney General. I gather the Attorney General made the decision not to table the report into the parliament, not the Ombudsman. Unless of course the Ombudsman when referring the report to the Attorney General attached a caveat that stated that this report although your responsibility still remains in the control of The Victorian Ombudsman. I would like to see the caveat and then if he had placed such a caveat on the report why would he dedicate two pages of his 2009 annual report to this report.
The error occurred when the Attorney General referred my inquiry to the Victorian Ombudsman as the Victorian Ombudsman relinquished public access to those documents when he referred those documents to the Attorney General. The Attorney General makes the decision as to whether or not to table the documents in parliament so as the public can access them.
I would like to know why the own motion report written by The Victorian Ombudsman on the performance of the Legal Services Commissioner cannot be provided to me through the Attorney Generals Department as it is clear that the provisions that you have stated under the Ombudsman`s Act of 1973 ceased to apply after the Ombudsman referred the report to the Attorney General.
I have attached previous correspondence for your information.