McCaffrey and James Cook University
(2001 S0065, 29 June 2001)
The applicant sought access to a range of documents relating to disciplinary action taken in respect of a lecturer in the University's School of Law. The lecturer was an environmental law specialist, and an active opponent of commercial developments in North Queensland supported by the applicant.
After concessions were made by the applicant and the University, the matter in issue comprised three letters of support for the lecturer, written by two environmental groups and an environmental consultant, and the signature on a letter written to the lecturer by the University's Vice-Chancellor. The University contended that the letters were exempt under s.40(c) of the FOI Act, for similar reasons to those discussed in Pemberton and the University of Queensland (1994) 2 QAR 293.
Assistant Information Commissioner Shoyer found that the letters did not qualify for exemption under s.40(c), as there was nothing to justify a finding that their disclosure would have an adverse effect, let alone a substantial adverse effect, on the management or assessment by the University of its personnel. He also found, however, that the signatures on the three letters, and the signature on the letter from the Vice-Chancellor, were exempt from disclosure under s.44(1) of the FOI Act.