Smith and Queensland Rail; A (Third Party)

Application number:
2002 S0069
Decision date:
Saturday, Nov 08, 2003

Smith and Queensland Rail; A (Third Party)
(2002 S0069, 8 September 2003) 

Endangerment of life and physical safety – information communicated in confidence 

The applicant sought access to a report and attachments concerning the investigation by the respondent of a grievance which the applicant had lodged against his supervisor.  Following concessions made by several third parties and by the respondent during the course of the review, the only matter remaining in issue comprised two memoranda, written by the third party, which were submitted to the grievance investigators by the supervisor in support of his response to the applicant's grievance.  The third party objected to disclosure to the applicant of the memoranda. 

As regards the application of s.42(1)(c) of the FOI Act, the third party submitted that the applicant had previously threatened and intimidated him.  Assistant Commissioner Moss was satisfied that, while the applicant had had workplace disagreements with a number of persons, there was no evidence that the applicant had ever physically harmed the third party or any other person.  AC Moss decided that the disclosure of the memoranda could not reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of the third party or any other person. 

As regards the application of s.46(1)(b) of the FOI Act, AC Moss was not satisfied that there was a mutual understanding of confidentiality between the supplier (the third party) and the recipient (the supervisor).  Both memoranda contained a specific request from the third party that the supervisor raise directly with the applicant, the complaints contained in the memoranda.  In addition, the supervisor had supplied the memoranda to the grievance investigators without further reference to the third party, indicating that the supervisor did not understand the memoranda to have been communicated in confidence.  AC Moss also considered that there was a public interest in disclosure of the memoranda to the applicant as they formed part of the evidence relied upon by the respondent in deciding to dismiss the grievance that the applicant had lodged against his supervisor.