Sheridan and South Burnett Regional Council and various third parties
(210240, 23 June 2008)
Section 44(1) of the FOI Act – personal affairs
The applicant sought access under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (FOI Act) to various personnel documents relating to a number of former Murgon Shire Council employees. During the course of the external review Murgon Shire Council was amalgamated into the new South Burnett Regional Council.
First Assistant Commissioner Rangihaeata considered the principles in Stewart and Department of Transport (1993) 1 QAR 227 and found that:
· certain types of information in the personnel records could be characterised as information concerning the personal affairs of a person and was prima facie exempt from disclosure under section 44(1) of the FOI Act
· there were no public interest considerations favouring disclosure of the personal affairs information which outweighed the privacy interests of Council employees, except for information that disclosed the gross salary of Council employees. First Assistant Commissioner Rangihaeata found that the gross salary information was not exempt under section 44(1) of the FOI Act.
· the remainder of the information related purely to the employment affairs of the relevant employees and was not exempt from disclosure under section 44(1) of the FOI Act.
Section 42(1)(ca) of the FOI Act - serious act of harassment or intimidation
The Council and a third party submitted that the release of certain material could reasonably be expected to result in the third party, the third party’s family and Council employees being subjected to a serious act of harassment or intimidation.
First Assistant Commissioner Rangihaeata found that there was insufficient evidence upon which to base such a finding and concluded that the matter in issue was not exempt under section 42(1)(ca) of the FOI Act.