Christie and Queensland Industry Development Corporation
(1993 S0005, 31 March 1993)
Mr Christie sought access to documents held by the Queensland Industry Development Corporation (QIDC) concerning his business dealings with that agency. In its notification of decision, QIDC advised Mr Christie that its Government Schemes Division held a file responsive to the terms of his access request, and that full access was granted to that file. However, QIDC advised that other documents concerning the Rural Loan Facility which Mr Christie maintained with the Corporation's Dalby branch were not subject to the FOI Act, as QIDC contended that they fell within the scope of s.11(1)(k) of the FOI Act, which excludes from the Act's application 'Queensland Industry Development Corporation in relation to its investment functions'.
Initially, QIDC argued that it had not made a 'decision' which was subject to review by the Information Commissioner. However, the Information Commissioner's view was that the question of the Information Commissioner's jurisdiction was dependent on the determination of the issue of whether the documents in question did, or did not, relate to QIDC's 'investment functions', and that as an appeal tribunal of limited jurisdiction, the Information Commissioner had both the power and a duty to embark upon a consideration of issues relating to the limits of the Commissioner's jurisdiction. It was essential to the exercise of the Information Commissioner's power in this regard that the Information Commissioner examine the documents to determine whether they related to QIDC's 'investment functions', and accordingly the Information Commissioner required QIDC to produce the documents in issue.
After reviewing relevant case-law on point, the Information Commissioner determined that in the context of s.11(1)(k) of the FOI Act, the phrase 'investment functions' must be construed as meaning those functions of the QIDC which involve the laying out of money, or the placing of capital, with the purpose or intention of obtaining a return of income or profit from the employment of those funds. According to that meaning, the Information Commissioner concluded that the documents relating to the rural loan facility to which access was refused in reliance on s.11(1)(k) of the FOI Act did relate to the 'investment functions' of QIDC, and that accordingly QIDC was entitled to refuse Mr Christie access to those documents.