Stiller and Department of Transport
(210440, 11 February 2009)
Sufficiency of search
The applicant sought access to documents relating to the restoration, modification, modification approval and registration of his vehicle.
In its original decision the Department of Transport (Department) located and released to the applicant 486 documents. The applicant sought internal review of the original decision on the basis that he believed the Department had not released all relevant documents to him. On internal review the Department located some additional documents and all except one were released to the applicant. The Department decided that the document which was not released qualified for exemption under section 50(c)(i) of the FOI Act. The applicant sought external review of the Department’s decision.
In this review the Department provided evidence of the searches conducted to locate documents responding to the FOI application. On the basis that:
· the Department considered the FOI Application, identified the appropriate areas of QT to search and adequately explained why these areas were chosen
· the Department provided appropriate evidence and explanation of who conducted the searches, how the searches were conducted and the time spent searching for documents
· the evidence showed that a minimum of 11 departmental staff (including senior staff) spent a minimum of 31 hours searching for documents and responding to the request
· Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies decided the Department had taken all reasonable steps to locate all documents responding to the FOI Application
A/AC Jefferies held that access to:
· the majority of the documents sought should be refused under section 28A(1) of the FOI Act on the basis that the documents sought do not exist
· two of the documents sought should be refused under section 28A(2) of the FOI Act on the basis that although these documents should be in QT’s possession, QT has taken all reasonable steps to locate the documents but they could not be found.
Section 50(c)(i)Matter disclosure of which would infringe the privileges of Parliament
The document to which the applicant was refused access was a Ministerial briefing note. On the basis that the Ministerial briefing note:
· was stored in a database of briefing notes within a file titled Parliamentary – PPQ
· posed a question, listed speaking points in response to that question and provided some additional information about the issues addressed
· had not been publicly disclosed
Acting Assistant Commissioner Jefferies concluded that the Ministerial briefing note was a document prepared to assist the Minister to answer questions that might be asked of the Minister in the Assembly. In view of this finding, A/AC Jefferies held that the Ministerial briefing note:
· constituted an act done for the purposes of, or incidental to, transacting business in the Assembly and therefore satisfies the requirements of sections 8 and 9 of the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 (Qld)
· qualifies for exemption under section 50(c)(i) of the FOI Act.
Section 77(1)(a) Part of the application misconceived
In the external review application the applicant sought answers to questions or supporting documentation to justify statements made by the Department in documents already released to the applicant.
A/AC Jefferies held that these parts of the application were misconceived and declined to deal with them further.