Griffiths and Building Services Authority
(1996 S0075, 31 August 1998)
In this 'reverse FOI' case, the applicant objected to disclosure of two questionnaires completed by him as part of the assessment of his eligibility to be licensed as a builder in Queensland, the assessment by a building inspector of the applicant's answers to the questionnaires, and a small amount of related matter.
The Information Commissioner decided that the applicant's decision to apply for a builder's licence, and the time and effort expended in its pursuit, must be properly characterised as part of his personal affairs, rather than his business or employment affairs. Generally speaking, the Information Commissioner considers that an individual's efforts to obtain a particular trade or professional qualification fall within the realm of personal affairs, whereas that individual's conduct of his/her trade or profession (having obtained the necessary qualification) does not.
The Information Commissioner found that the applicant's answers to the questionnaires, and the comments thereon by the assessor, comprised information concerning the applicant's personal affairs. The Information Commissioner referred to a number of factors which diminished the weight of any public interest in accountability of the Building Services Authority that might be served by disclosure of the matter in issue, and ultimately found that most of the matter in issue qualified for exemption under s.44(1) of the FOI Act. The Information Commissioner did, however, find that there was a small amount of matter in issue which it was in the public interest to disclose. The Information Commissioner decided that s.45(1)(c) of the FOI Act did not apply in the circumstances of the case.