GHS and Department of Emergency Services

Application number:
2001 S0080
Decision date:
Wednesday, May 15, 2002

GHS and Department of Emergency Services
(2001 S0080, 15 May 2002) 

The Department received an application from a journalist for access to documents relating to fire safety in hostel accommodation in Queensland. Among the documents to which it granted access was a letter from the applicant to an Assistant Commissioner of what was then the Queensland Fire Service (QFS).  Although the Department decided that matter that would identify the applicant was exempt, the applicant pursued a ‘reverse FOI’ application, arguing that disclosure of any part of the letter would identify him, and that it had been written in confidence.

The letter expressed the applicant's concerns about fire safety in backpacker accommodation, and submitted a proposal for a fire safety system in which the applicant sought to interest the QFS.  The Deputy Information Commissioner found that those parts of the letter which were in issue did not qualify for exemption under s.44(1), as they would not disclose the identity of the applicant.  The Deputy Information Commissioner observed that there was nothing on the face of the letter, or in its contents, to suggest that confidential treatment was sought, and found that the matter remaining in issue did not qualify for exemption under s.46(1)(a) or (b) of the FOI Act.