McMahon and Department of State Development

Application number:
2001 S0018
Decision date:
Thursday, Jun 27, 2002

McMahon and Department of State Development
(2001 S0018, 27 June 2002) 

As part of the deployment process for retrenched public service officers, the applicant had applied unsuccessfully for appointment to advertised vacancies in the respondent agency.  He sought access under the FOI Act to documents pertaining to the selection and appointment of officers to two advertised vacancies, and the decision not to deploy him at level to one of the advertised vacancies.  He sought external review of the agency's decision to refuse him access to identifying information contained in the job applications of other unsuccessful candidates for the advertised vacancies, and also raised 'sufficiency of search' issues.

The Deputy Information Commissioner decided that the respondent had been overly cautious in making deletions, and that some additional matter from the job applications could be disclosed without identifying the other unsuccessful job applicants.  However, he decided that all of the remaining identifying matter did qualify for exemption under s.44(1) of the FOI Act, in accordance with principles stated in Baldwin and Department of Education (1996) 3 QAR 251. 

The Deputy Information Commissioner acknowledged there was a public interest in fair treatment of the applicant under, and a public interest in accountability of the Department for its compliance with, established government rules and policies for the deployment of surplus public service officers; but he was satisfied, having regard to the extent of the material already released to the applicant under the FOI Act, that disclosure of the matter remaining in issue could not materially further those public interests to an extent that would justify overriding the privacy interests of the other unsuccessful job applicants. 

The Deputy Information Commissioner also applied the principles stated in Shepherd and Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning (1994) 1 QAR 464 in dealing with the 'sufficiency of search' issues raised by the applicant.