Relevant decisions from other jurisdictions

O'Grady v Northern Queensland Company Ltd (1990) 92 ALR 213

The term 'in relation to a matter' in section 36(1)(c) is not defined by the FOI Act or the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld). In Kelsall and Department of Main Roads,27 the Information Commissioner adopted the meaning of 'in relation to' from Dawson J's decision in O'Grady v Northern Queensland Company Ltd.28

In O'Grady, Dawson J considered the meaning of 'in relation to' (in the context of a different piece of legislation) and stated: [1]

The words 'in relation to', read out of context, are wide enough to cover every conceivable connexion. But those words should not be read out of context, which in this case is provided by the [relevant legislation].

What is required is a relevant relationship, having regard to the scope of the Act. Where jurisdiction is dependent upon a relation with some matter or thing, something more than a coincidental or mere connexion -- something in the nature of a relevant relationship -- is necessary: see Reg v Ross-Jones; Ex parte Green (1984) 156 CLR 185, at pp 196-197, 210.

Secretary to the Department of Infrastructure v Asher [2007] VSCA 272

This case considered the Victorian equivalent to section 36(1) of the FOI Act.

The Department of Treasury and Finance instructed the Department of Infrastructure to prepare reports to be marked 'cabinet-in-confidence' for the dual purpose of advising its ministers and as raw material which might be submitted to Cabinet. The content of the reports was transposed and included in submissions to a Cabinet committee, both in full and in summary form.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal dismissed the appeal and found the reports were not exempt because they were not prepared for the purpose of submission for consideration by Cabinet, but were preliminary or preparatory material. The fact that information within them found its way into other documents that were prepared for that purpose did not make the reports exempt.

The endorsement 'cabinet-in-confidence' may be useful in determining the purpose for which a document was secured, but is not determinative.

27Kelsall and Department of Main Roads (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 21 August 2008).
28O'Grady v Northern Queensland Company Ltd (1990) 92 ALR 213.

Last updated: April 18, 2012