Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) – exempt information – section 47(3)(a) and section 48 – schedule 3, section 8 – public interest factors – section 47(3)(b) and section 49 –schedule 4, part 2, items 1, 2 and 14 – part 3, items 2, 15 and 21
Seven Network Operations (Seven) applied to Safe Food Production Queensland (SFPQ) for documents about failed health and safety audits in relation to a food business.
The food business was consulted as an interested third party and objected to disclosure of the documents. SFPQ refused access to the documents on the grounds that their release would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest and that the documents were exempt under a number of exemptions.
On external review, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) issued a preliminary view to SFPQ and to the food business that the documents were not exempt and that disclosure of the documents was not, on balance, contrary to the public interest.
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 relevant documents did not fall within the scope of Seven’s access application, or alternatively, that the prejudice to its business and privacy outweighed any other factors favouring disclosure in the public interest, and that access to the information should therefore be refused on the basis that disclosure would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.
After carefully considering all of the matters before her, the Assistant Information Commissioner decided that the information in issue was not:
· exempt information disclosure of which could:
o found an action for breach of confidence
o reasonably be expected to endanger a person’s life or physical safety
o reasonably be expected to prejudice the effectiveness of a lawful method or procedure for preventing, detecting, investigating or dealing with a contravention or possible contravention of the law
o reasonably be expected to prejudice the maintenance or enforcement of a lawful method or procedure for protecting public safety; and
o reasonably be expected to prejudice a system or procedure for the protection of persons; or
· information whose disclosure would, on balance, be contrary to the public interest.
Accordingly, the Assistant Information Commissioner found that Seven was entitled to access the information.