Overview of Section 29(1) FOI Act
An agency or Minister may refuse to deal with an application if they consider doing so would substantially and unreasonably:
- divert the agency's resources from the performance of its functions; or
- interfere with the Minister's performance of his or her functions.
The agency or Minister may refuse to deal with a single application or multiple applications by the same applicant.1
The purpose of section 29(1) of the FOI Act is to balance applicants' access rights with efficient government and to reduce the impact of voluminous or unreasonably onerous applications on the operations of agencies and Ministers.2
The current section 29 was inserted into the FOI Act by the Freedom of Information and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2005 (Qld). The explanatory notes3 to the bill explain that the new section 29 replicates and amends the old section 28(2)-(5) and implements findings 76 and 78 of the Legal, Constitutional and Administrative Review Committee Report 32. The amendments clarify that the intention of the section is to enable an agency or Minister to refuse to 'deal' with an application, rather than simply to refuse 'access' to documents, where resources would be unreasonably diverted in the process of applications.
In addition, the explanatory notes explain that the amendments are intended to allow an agency or Minister to refuse to deal with multiple applications by the same person if the agency or Minister considers the work involved in dealing with all the applications would result in a substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources. This is to ensure that applicants cannot subvert the intention of the section by lodging multiple applications for access where the combined effect of the applications would result in a substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources, although none of the applications considered individually would.
Other relevant FOI Act sections
Section 29A FOI Act
Section 29A identifies procedural requirements that must be met before an agency or Minister may refuse to deal with an application under section 29(1) of the FOI Act. The provision provides applicants with an opportunity to refine their application so it can be dealt with.
1 This allows agencies and Ministers to refuse to deal with applications which might not involve a substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources to process individually, but would together be unreasonably onerous to process.
2 Legal, Constitutional and Administrative Review Committee, Freedom of Information in Queensland, Report No 32 (2001) at 6.8.
3 Explanatory notes to the Freedom of Information and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2005 (Qld).
Last updated: April 17, 2012