Kearney and Central Queensland University

Application number:
2004 F0146
Decision date:
Wednesday, Jun 29, 2005

Kearney and Central Queensland University
(2004 F0146, 29 June 2005)

Prejudice to the conduct of industrial relations by an agency – information communicated in confidence

The applicant sought access to documents concerning himself and a third party (another employee of the University) against whom he had lodged a grievance.  The only matter in issue in this review were the notes of an interview between the third party and the University’s Equity and Diversity Office (with the exception of a small amount of personal affairs matter).  The ED Office offers confidential assistance to staff of the University, and both the University and the third party objected to the disclosure of the notes on the ground that communications made to the ED Office are treated in strict confidence.  The University also contended that the notes qualified for exemption from disclosure under s.40(d). 

AC Barker found that the notes did not qualify for exemption under s.40(d), as the grievance against the third party had been finalised, and there was nothing to indicate that it was ever likely to lead to an industrial matter in terms of s.40(d) of the FOI Act.  Applying Shaw and the University of Queensland and L’Estrange (1995) 3 QAR 107, Assistant Commissioner Barker also found that the notes did not qualify for exemption under s.46(1)(a) or s.46(1)(b) of the FOI Act, as the third party had given permission for the applicant to read the notes (although not to receive a copy) if he approached the ED Office, and the applicant had in fact done so.  (AC Barker noted, however, in response to the University’s concerns about the confidentiality of ED documents, that without waiver of confidentiality by the third party vis-à-vis the applicant, the notes would have been exempt matter.)