Byrne and Gold Coast City Council
(1993 L0016, 12 May 1994)
This case illustrates the application of principles set out in McEniery and Medical Board of Queensland (1994) 1 QAR 349 as to the scope of the words 'enforcement or administration of the law' in s.42(1)(b) of the FOI Act. The Information Commissioner decided that a law which does no more than empower a government agency to carry out activities for the benefit of the public, as opposed to, for instance, imposing enforceable legal obligations, will not ordinarily be a law within the meaning of the phrase 'enforcement or administration of the law' in s.42(1)(b) of the FOI Act.
This case also briefly analyses s.42(1)(f) of the FOI Act highlighting the significance of the fact that s.42(1)(f) refers only to prejudice to the maintenance or enforcement of a lawful method or procedure (for protecting public safety), in contrast to s.42(1)(e) which refers to prejudice to the effectiveness of a lawful method or procedure (for dealing with contraventions of the law).
This case provides an important further illustration of principles set out in Stewart and Department of Transport (1993) 1 QAR 227, as to the scope of the phrase ‘information relating to the personal affairs of a person’. The Information Commissioner held that the identity of a person who had complained to the person's local alderman about an issue concerning local civic affairs, was entitled to exemption under s.44(1) of the FOI Act, even though the substance of the complaint was not exempt matter and had in fact been disclosed to the applicant for access.