Key published decisions applying Section 29(1) FOI Act

Seal and Queensland Police Service (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 26 June 2007)

In part, the applicant sought access to emails sent and received by various Queensland Police Service (QPS) officers within certain time periods. QPS disclosed a number of relevant documents, however the applicant contended that further documents existed. On external review, QPS submitted that further emails could be held in back up tapes, but the time and resources in searching the back up tapes would amount to a substantial and unreasonable diversion of the agency's resources from its other functions.

The applicant subsequently narrowed the terms of his access request. Upon review of the refined access request, the QPS confirmed that backup tapes contained one day of emails, that it takes two hours to load and run each backup tape and that the applicant's request amounted to 274 days. Accordingly, QPS stated that processing the application: [181]

…would constitute at least 12.2 weeks of searching time, amounting to a cost of approximately $27,500 to the QPS. It should again be emphasised that this is a conservative estimate.

The Information Commissioner was satisfied that searching the backup tapes would take at least 10 weeks. Accordingly, the Information Commissioner found QPS was entitled to refuse to deal with this part of the applicant's application under section 29(1) of the FOI Act, on the basis that doing so would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of QPS from their use in the performance of its functions. [184]

Thomson and Lockyer Valley Regional Council (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 23 September 2010

The applicant sought access to documents held by Lockyer Valley Regional Council (Council) about his property, himself, all Council correspondence regarding messy, untidy and/or visually polluted properties and related documents within a six year date range. The Council's decision was deemed and the applicant sought external review.

Council submitted that the estimated time involved in processing the application would be at least 80 hours and cost approximately $2,218. [72]

The Information Commissioner considered that in processing the application, Council would need carefully read the material and redact information from an estimated 1810 documents because the relevant matter contained information concerning the personal affairs of persons other than the applicant. [74] Further the Information Commissioner found that some of the relevant documents were held at different locations and it would be necessary to travel to process these documents. [75] While a number of documents were held electronically, there were a large number of documents in hard copy, which required a significant amount of time to locate and photocopy. [75]

Accordingly, the Information Commissioner was satisfied Council was entitled to refuse to deal with part of the application under section 29(1) of the FOI Act, on the basis that dealing with this part of the application would substantially and unreasonably divert Council's resources from their use in performing Council functions.

Last updated: April 17, 2012