Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) – public interest factors – section 47(3)(b) and section 49 –schedule 4, part 2, items 1, 2 and 14 – part 3, items 2 and 3 – part 4, items 6 and 7
The applicant applied to Redland City Council (Council) for documents about failed health and safety audits in relation to a food business.
After consulting with the food business as an interested third party, Council refused access to the documents on the grounds that their release would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.
On external review, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) issued a preliminary view to Council and to the food business that releasing the documents was not, on balance, contrary to the public interest.
Council accepted OIC’s preliminary view and no longer objects to releasing the documents.
The food business applied to participate in the external review, and provided submissions in response to OIC’s preliminary view. In summary the food business contended that the prejudice to its business and privacy outweighed any other factors favouring disclosure in the public interest and access to the information should therefore be refused.
The Right to Information Commissioner considered that in the circumstances of this review, the public interest in Council’s accountability, promoting public discussion about the way in which Council performs its role under the Food Act 2006 (Qld) and the public interest in safe, informed and competitive marketplaces must be given significant weight. However, the Right to Information Commissioner found the public interest in revealing health risks to be relatively low due to the age of the information.
Weighing against these public interests in favour of disclosure was the prejudice and harm to the food business’ commercial and business affairs. The Right to Information Commissioner attributed moderate weight to these factors, but did not consider that they outweighed the disclosure factors.
Therefore, the Right to Information Commissioner set aside Council’s decision to refuse access to the information in issue under section 47(3)(b) of the RTI Act and found that disclosure would not, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.