McPhillimy and Treasury Department; Gold Coast Motor Events Co. (Third Party)

Application number:
1994 S0091
Decision date:
Friday, Jun 28, 1996
(1996) 3 QAR 287

McPhillimy and Queensland Treasury; Gold Coast Motor Events Co. (Third Party)
(1994 S0091, 28 June 1996) 

Mr McPhillimy operated a security services company at the Gold Coast.  His company was awarded the contract for provision of security services at the 1992 Gold Coast Indy Car Grand Prix, but the contract was later terminated by the promoter of the Grand Prix, the Gold Coast Motor Events Co. (the GCMEC).  The only document in issue by the time of my decision was a comparison of tenders for the provision of security services for the 1992 Grand Prix.  Queensland Treasury had possession of a copy of that document. 

After consultations, each of the security firms which had lodged tenders for the contract, had consented to disclosure of the information in the document in issue which concerned them.  However, the GCMEC objected to disclosure of any part of the document.  The Information Commissioner found that, given its age, and the consent to its disclosure by the respective security firms which had submitted tenders, the matter in issue had no commercial value which could be diminished by its disclosure, and hence was not exempt matter under s.45(1)(b) of the FOI Act. 

The Information Commissioner rejected the GCMEC's claim that the document was exempt under s.45(1)(c) of the FOI Act.  The Information Commissioner found that the document concerned the business or commercial affairs of the GCMEC, and the business, commercial or financial affairs of the security firms.  But, given the consent to disclosure by the security firms, the Information Commissioner found that no adverse effect on the relevant affairs of the security firms could reasonably be expected to arise from disclosure of the document to the applicant.  For a number of reasons, including the age of the document itself, the Information Commissioner also found that that there was no reasonable basis for expecting that disclosure of the document could have an adverse effect on the business or commercial affairs of the GCMEC. 

The GCMEC also claimed the document was exempt under s.46(1)(a), as the security firms had provided the information recorded in the document in confidence, and would be entitled to protect that information by bringing an action for breach of confidence.  Referring to my previous comment in B and Brisbane North Regional Health Authority (1994) 1 QAR 279, that an obligation of confidence may be released by the express or implied consent of the person to whom it is owed, the Information Commissioner concluded that, as each of the security firms had consented to release of the relevant information, the document was not exempt under s.46(1)(a). 

For the same reason, the Information Commissioner concluded that the matter was not exempt under s.46(1)(b).  In addition, the Information Commissioner was not persuaded that disclosure could be expected to prejudice the future supply of such information to government.