Section 48, 49 and schedule 3, section 6(c)(i) of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld)
Applicant sought access to documents drafted by and concerning Mr B Pepplinkhouse. The Department of Health (QH) located a number of responsive documents of which it refused the applicant access to 21 pages (information in issue) on the basis that some of the documents comprised exempt information under sections 48 and schedule 3, section 6(c)(i) of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) whilst disclosure of the remainder of the documents would, on balance be contrary to the public interest under section 49 of the RTI Act.
The applicant applied to the Office of the Information Commissioner (the Office) seeking external review of QH’s decision.
In finding that some of the documents were exempt information under schedule 3, section 6(c)(i) of the RTI Act, the Information Commissioner confirmed the relevant information was prepared by QH to assist the Minister for Health in answering possible parliamentary questions relating to his portfolio and as a consequence:
· was prepared for the purposes of transacting business of the Assembly in accordance with section 8 of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 (Qld)
· attracts Parliamentary privilege.
The applicant disputed QH’s decision that disclosure of the remaining information in issue would be contrary to the public interest on the basis that:
· there had been publicity concerning the case meaning privacy interests in the information were diminishes
· the information would support her client’s application for re-instatement by QH.
The Information Commissioner acknowledged that the applicant’s submissions did favour disclosure of the remainder of the information in issue to some extent, but on balance the factors favouring non-disclosure carried more weight in this case because:
· the applicant had not identified how the information would assist her client’s case
· release of the information was unlikely to further government accountability given the time period which had elapsed since Mr Pepplinkhouses’ case was completed
· whilst the information publicly available about this case had led to a slight diminution in the privacy interests attaching to the information, this did not mean the privacy interests were completely extinguished.
The Information Commissioner confirmed QH’s decision, finding that QH was entitled to rely on sections 47(3)(a) and 47(3)(b) of the RTI Act to refuse the applicant access to the information in issue.