Application of Section 22(a) FOI Act
1. Can the relevant matter be accessed 'under another enactment'?
'Enactment' is defined in section 7 of the FOI Act as an 'Act or statutory instrument'.2
The Information Commissioner previously considered the following documents to be reasonably available 'under another enactment':
- documents tendered in court and marked as exhibits;3
- court transcripts;4 and
- public service employee records.5
2. Can the relevant matter be accessed 'under arrangements made by an agency'?
The Information Commissioner previously considered the following documents to be reasonably available under 'arrangements made by an agency':
- information available on an agency website6
- documents available through specialised access schemes such as:
- the register of land titles
- the register of births, deaths and marriages
- registers for obtaining information about driver's licence and traffic history
- records of proceedings under the Justices Act 1886 (Qld)
- the Queensland Police Service scheme allowing an applicant to purchase their own criminal history, court brief and fine option order forms.7
3. Is the alternative access reasonable?
The alternative means of access must be reasonably open to the applicant; restrictions on the right to access the document under the enactment or arrangement may invalidate this ground for refusal of access.8
Rather than listing relevant factors which may affect the 'reasonableness' of access, the Information Commissioner considered the following illustrative examples:9
- if a document can be purchased, the reasonableness of access may depend on the availability of stock;
- if a document can be accessed by inspection, the reasonableness of access may depend on the physical location of the document available;
- if a charging regime has been prescribed by an Act or statutory instrument, the reasonableness of the value is not ordinarily open to question; and
- if a charging regime has been set up under an administrative arrangement, the reasonableness of the price may be scrutinised.
2 Section 6 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld) defines 'Act' and section 7(3) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1992 (Qld) defines 'statutory instrument'.
3 Such documents were found to be available under the Criminal Practice Rules 1900 (Qld) in Banks and Queensland Corrective Services Commission (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 25 February 1997).
4 The transcripts were found to be available under the Criminal Code (Qld), the Criminal Practice Rules 1999 (Qld) and the Recording of Evidence Regulation 2008 (Qld) in Ferguson and Director of Public Prosecutions (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 31 July 1996).
5 Available under the Public Service Regulation 2008 (Qld) as found in IJK and Department of Public Works (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 23 June 2008).
6 Henderson and Queensland Law Society Inc (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 19 January 2007).
7 JM and Queensland Police Service (1995) 2 QAR 516 at paragraphs 31, 33 and 37.
8 JM and Queensland Police Service (1995) 2 QAR 516 at paragraphs 28 and 29.
9 JM and Queensland Police Service (1995) 2 QAR 516 at paragraphs 38, 40 and 41.
Last updated: March 5, 2012