Section 47(3)(b) of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld)
Public interest factors:
· Schedule 4, part 2, item 1 of the RTI Act
· Schedule 4, part 2, item 17 of the RTI Act
· Schedule 4, part 3, item 3 of the RTI Act
· Schedule 4, part 4, item 6(1) of the RTI Act
The applicant sought access to information relating to a telephone call to Energex reporting an electrical fault at the applicant’s home. Energex officers attended the premises and identified that there was no electrical fault. The applicant submitted that the call to Energex was made fraudulently.
Energex granted the applicant access to some information but refused access under section 47(3)(b) of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) to the audio recording of the telephone call and the name and telephone number of the caller. On external review, the applicant submitted that he should be given access to the recording and caller details for accountability reasons and to enable him to pursue legal action against the caller.
The Information Commissioner recognised that where disclosure of information would enhance government transparency and accountability the public interest will favour disclosure. However, in this case the Information Commissioner found that this interest had been adequately addressed by disclosure of Energex records relating to the crew’s dispatch time and work undertaken at the applicant’s property to investigate and ensure safety of the premises; and that disclosure of the recording and caller details would not further this public interest.
While also acknowledging a valid public interest in favour of disclosure in relation to the administration of justice, the Information Commissionerwas satisfied that the emergency call was made in good faith on the basis of the caller's valid concerns as to electrical issues at the applicant's residence. The Information Commissionerconsidered thatthere did not appear to be any basis on which the applicant could commence proceedings against the caller.
With respect to public interest factors favouring non-disclosure, the Information Commissioner found that:
· disclosure of the recording and caller details would disclose the caller's personal information; and
· disclosure of the identities of people who call the Energex emergency hotline may adversely affect Energex’s ability to investigate electrical safety issues and reduce any associated risk to public safety, by reducing the willingness of members of the public to report electrical safety issues that they observe.
The Information Commissioner decided that, on balance, disclosure of the recording and caller details would be contrary to the public interest.