Stewart and Department of Transport

Application number:
1993 S0103
Decision date:
Friday, May 12, 1995
(1995) 2 QAR 532

Stewart and Department of Transport
(1993 S0103, 12 May 1995) 

This case involved the application of the principles relating to ‘sufficiency of search’ cases set out in Shepherd and Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning (1994) 1 QAR 464, in a situation where a person made an application to the respondent for documents concerning his personal affairs.  It was necessary, in the course of searches for further relevant documents, to apply the principles set out in Stewart and Department of Transport (1993) 1 QAR 227 to determine what matter concerned the applicant’s personal affairs.  The case highlights the difficulties that may arise when a person, seeking information about broader issues, frames an application in such a way as to avoid payment of the $30 application fee, by requesting only matter which concerns his personal affairs.  The Information Commissioner found that, with the exception of one document, there were no reasonable grounds to believe that the agency held further documents falling within the terms of the FOI access application.  As to the remaining document, the Information Commissioner found that the search efforts of the agency, although ultimately unsuccessful, had been reasonable in all the circumstances. 

The Information Commissioner also found that the name of a member of the public who had made a complaint about certain matters was exempt matter under s.44(1), as the Information Commissioner could find no public interest factor which might outweigh the interest in maintaining the privacy of the complainant.