Key published decisions applying Schedule 3, section 6(c)(i) RTI Act

Waratah Coal Pty Ltd and Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 10 December 2012)

The applicant applied to the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning (Department) for access to all documents and correspondence relating to the applicant and the Office of the Coordinator General.  The Department refused access to certain documents on the basis that disclosure would infringe the privileges of Parliament.

Applying the principles set out in Rowley v O’Chee,1 the Acting Information Commissioner found that, for the information in issue to comprise exempt information, it had to be demonstrated that:

  • it was prepared for the purposes of, or incidental to, the transacting of business of the Parliament; and
  • its public disclosure would hinder, impede or impair the making of similar communications in the future for the purpose of transacting the business of the Parliament.

On the second point, the Acting Information Commissioner had regard to the decision of In the matter of OPEL Networks Pty Ltd (in liq),2 in which Austin J found that ‘… the Commonwealth officers whose task it is to prepare those documents will be impeded in their preparation [of Parliamentary briefing materials], by the knowledge that the documents may be used in legal proceedings and for investigatory purposes that might well affect the quality of information available to Parliament.’

Moriarty and Department of Health (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 15 September 2010)

The applicant sought access to documents falling under the portfolio of the Minister for Health. The Department of Health refused access to information under schedule 3, section 6(c)(i) of the RTI Act on the basis that public disclosure of the information would infringe the privilege of Parliament.

To determine whether the information was subject to parliamentary privilege, the Information Commissioner considered whether the information was prepared for the purpose of or incidental to, transacting business in the Assembly. [11]

The Information Commissioner accepted that the information was created for the Minister of Health for the purpose of discharging the Minister's obligation to answer questions in Parliament. [11] Accordingly, the Information Commissioner was satisfied that the information was prepared 'for the purpose of or incidental to, transacting business in the Assembly' and was subject to parliamentary privilege, even though the information was not actually presented to Parliament. [11]

As such, the Information Commissioner decided that access to the information could be refused to the applicant under section 47(3)(a) of the RTI Act on the basis that it comprised exempt information under schedule 3, section 6(c)(i) of the RTI Act.

  • 1 [2000] 1 Qd R 207.
  • 2 [2010] NSWSC 142.

Last updated: May 24, 2013