MPH and Queensland Nursing Council
(2001 S0232, 9 January 2003)
The respondent had temporarily suspended the applicant's nursing registration due to her ill health. The applicant sought access under the FOI Act to two paragraphs of a letter from the respondent to the applicant's supervisor. The paragraphs contained observations concerning the supervisor's management of the applicant's diminished performance, and proposals for future management of similar personnel issues.
In deciding that the matter in issue was not exempt under s.44(1) of the FOI Act, Assistant Comissioner Moss applied the principles stated in Pope and Queensland Health (1994) 1 QAR 616 at paragraph 116. AC Moss found that the matter in issue concerned the supervisor's employment affairs rather than her personal affairs. While it was unnecessary to make findings in respect of the public interest balancing test, AC Moss noted the applicant's strong "need to know", given that the paragraphs in issue related to the applicant and the way in which concerns about her diminished performance were managed. AC Moss also recognised a general public interest in the accountability of the respondent and Queensland Health in respect of the handling of performance issues involving their registrants/employees, which would be enhanced by disclosure of the matter in issue.
In addition, AC Moss decided that the paragraphs in issue were not exempt matter under s.40(c) of the FOI Act, as she was not satisfied that their disclosure could reasonably be expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the performance by the supervisor of her managerial duties, or to undermine her relationship with her staff members, given the mild nature of the observations in question.