S and Medical Board of Queensland
(1994 S0084, 12 October 1994)
The applicant sought direct access to a letter to the respondent from the applicant’s former psychiatrist.
The President of the Medical Board of Queensland had decided, pursuant to s.44(3) of the FOI Act, that access should not be given to the applicant but should be given instead to a qualified medical practitioner nominated by the applicant and approved by the respondent. This case contains an analysis of s.44(3) of the FOI Act and endorses (at paragraphs 12-13) principles which should guide the exercise of the discretion conferred by s.44(3). The case required the balancing of opinion from the applicant’s most recent treating psychiatrist against the opinions of another psychiatrist and Dr Lange, the President of the Medical Board of Queensland.
The Information Commissioner was persuaded by the information provided by Dr Lange that there was a real and tangible possibility, as distinct from a fanciful, remote or far-fetched possibility, of prejudice to the applicant’s physical or mental health or wellbeing if the applicant were to be given direct access to the document in issue. The Information Commissioner therefore considered that it was preferable that the discretion conferred by s.44(3) of the FOI Act be exercised, and that access to the document in issue not be given to the applicant but given instead to a qualified medical practitioner nominated by the applicant and approved by Dr Lange.