Alpert and Brisbane City Council
(1993 L0017, 15 June 1995)
This case involved consideration of the application of s.44(1) to documents relating to an application for approval for construction of a family home, including plans, conditions imposed, advice from consultants and Council records of inspections. The Information Commissioner found that disclosure of the documents would disclose matter which concerned the personal affairs of the family who built and lived in the home. In considering the balance of public interest, the Information Commissioner took into account the fact that, while the applicant had been a neighbour and had at one time a particular interest concerning a retaining wall which faced his property, he had subsequently sold his property and no longer had any special interest in the wall or other aspects of the house. While acknowledging a public interest in disclosure to enhance government accountability, the Information Commissioner found that, in the circumstances of this case, the factors which favoured disclosure did not outweigh the public interest in maintaining the privacy of the home owners.
The applicant also contended that not all relevant documents had been disclosed by the Council and so the case involved the application of the principles relating to ‘sufficiency of search’ cases set out in Shepherd and Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning (1994) 1 QAR 464. In that regard the Information Commissioner found there were no reasonable grounds to believe that the Council had failed to locate and deal with all documents falling within the terms of the FOI access application.