Section 47(3)(b) Right to Information Act – refusal of access – contrary to public interest
Section 47(3)(e) Right to Information Act - refusal of access – nonexistent or unlocatable documents
Section 52(1)(a) Right to Information Act – nonexistent documents
The applicant applied to Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) for access to various documents relating to sewage flooding issues on her property.
QUU located and provided the applicant with a number of documents.
QUU refused access to:
· some documents sought on the basis that they did not exist
· part of an attachment to a letter dated 18 January 2009 (Attachment) on the basis that disclosure would be contrary to the public interest because it contained personal information; and
· one document on the basis that disclosure would be contrary to the public interest because it detailed QUU’s deliberative process.
In the course of the external review, both parties agreed to resolve some issues in the review. QUU agreed to provide the applicant with a copy of the document initially claimed to disclose QUU’s deliberative process and the applicant narrowed the categories of documents which she said QUU had not located.
During the course of the external review, QUU conducted further searches for documents relevant to the access application and provided submissions to the Office of the Information Commissioner in relation to those searches.
Having regard to the searches and enquiries conducted and the Information Commissioner’s comments in PDE and the University of Queensland (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 9 February 2009) the Right to Information Commissioner affirmed QUU’s decision and found that:
· there were reasonable grounds for QUU to be satisfied that the additional documents did not exist and therefore QUU could refuse access to the those documents under sections 47(3)(e) and 52(1)(a) of the RTI Act; and
· access could be refused to the Attachment on the basis that disclosure would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest under section 47(3)(b) of the RTI Act.