Section 47(3)(e) Right to Information Act – refusal of access
Section 52(1)(b) Right to Information Act – nonexistent or unlocatable documents
The applicant sought access to documents related to a redundancy from the Queensland Law Society (QLS) and applied for external review of QLS’s decision that no further documents existed. The applicant submitted that further responsive documents should exist.
QLS undertook extensive searches for additional documents, made enquiries with former staff and relevant third parties, and acknowledged that there were gaps in its documentation of the redundancy process. It also submitted that at the relevant time, the CEO believed that a former senior manager was documenting the process, however, subsequent enquiries revealed that the documents were not created.
Right to Information Commissioner Smith applied the principles of PDE and University of Queensland (Unreported, Qld Information Commissioner, 9 February 2009) to the question of whether access to documents can be refused under sections 47(3)(e) and 52(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act).
After considering the parties’ submissions and the evidence before her, the Right to Information Commissioner was satisfied that:
· there were reasonable grounds for QLS to be satisfied that additional documents existed, to the extent they should have been in the agency’s possession
· QLS had taken all reasonable steps to locate the additional documents sought and no additional documents could be located.
On this basis, the Right to Information Commissioner was satisfied that access to additional documents could be refused under sections 47(3)(e) and 52(1)(b) of the RTI Act.