Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) – public interest factors – section 47(3)(b) and section 49 –schedule 4, part 2, item 17 – part 3, item 3, – part 4 and 3 – part 4, item 6
The access applicant applied to the Department of Community Safety (Department) for access to ‘the official investigation report into a [specified] bushfire’ (Report).
The Department decided on internal review to release the Report, bar a small amount of a third party’s personal information which was not relevant to the application.
A third party (external review applicant) applied to the Office of the Information Commissioner for external review of the Department’s decision to disclose to the access applicant information which stated that the most likely cause of the fire was that it was lit by the external review applicant.
Assistant Information Commissioner Jefferies decided that the public interest in the administration of justice was particularly strong in this case because in order to pursue enquiries as to whether they may take legal action, the access applicant would require the information in issue. To refuse disclosure would deny the access applicant the opportunity to seek a remedy which the law may otherwise afford for loss they have suffered. Weighing against this public interest is the prejudice to the external review applicant’s privacy. Assistant Information Commissioner Jefferies was satisfied, in the circumstances, that the information in issue is not overly sensitive information and therefore the impact or extent of the harm that could be anticipated from disclosure, whilst significant for the external review applicant, is not sufficient to outweigh the strong public interest in disclosure in this case.
Therefore, Assistant Information Commissioner Jefferies decided to affirm the Department’s decision to release the information which identifies the external review applicant, as disclosure of this information would not, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.