Kelsall and Department of Main Roads
(210424, 21 August 2008)
Section 37(1) - Executive Council matter
The applicant applied to the Department of Main Roads (Department) for access to documents relating to the acquisition of land in connection with the North South Bypass Tunnel (FOI Application).
In response to the FOI Application, the Department granted the applicant access to 21 folios but refused access to 23 folios on the basis that they constituted exempt matter under section 37(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (Qld) (FOI Act).
During the external review process, the Department agreed to release 11 folios to the applicant because they comprised copies of matter which had already been published in the Queensland Government Gazette or previously released to the applicant. With respect to the remaining 12 folios, the Department maintained that those documents were exempt from disclosure under section 37(1) of the FOI Act.
In this decision, Acting Assistant Commissioner (AAC) Jefferies made the following findings with respect to the documents in issue:
· those folios which were submitted to Executive Council were exempt from disclosure under section 37(1)(a) of the FOI Act
· those folios which were prepared for briefing the Minister in relation to a matter submitted to Executive Council were exempt from disclosure under section 37(1)(c)(i) of the FOI Act
· the remaining folio, constituting a copy of an official record of Executive Council, was exempt from disclosure under section 37(1)(g) of the FOI Act.
Sufficiency of search
In this external review, the applicant also contended that additional documents should have been located by the Department in response to the FOI Application.
With respect to sufficiency of search, AAC Jefferies found that:
· the applicant had not established reasonable grounds to believe that further documents responding to the FOI Application were in the possession or under the control of the Department
· it was therefore, unnecessary to consider the second question posed in Shepherd and Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning (1994) 1 QAR 464 regarding the adequacy of searches conducted by the Department.