Section 44(1) of the FOI Act – personal affairs
Section 29(1) of the FOI Act – substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources
Section 22(a) of the FOI Act – documents otherwise available
Section 28A of the FOI Act – document nonexistent or unlocatable
The applicant sought access to the following documents held by Lockyer Valley Regional Council (Council):
· documents about himself and his property; and
· Council correspondence regarding untidy properties within a six year date range.
Council failed to provide a decision within the statutory timeframe, therefore, access was deemed to be refused under the FOI Act. Whilst Council subsequently released documents, the applicant requested an external review on the basis of sufficiency of search.
The Information Commissioner requested that Council conduct further searches and ultimately required Council to attend a formal hearing in which evidence was taken under oath as to the sufficiency of Council’s searches. Overall, Council produced additional documents on eight occasions throughout the external review, with a total of 69 pages of additional documents being located.
Based on the information provided by Council, the Information Commissioner decided that access could be refused to further documents on the basis that they either do not exist or could not be located.
The Information Commissioner was satisfied that Council was not required to deal with the second part of the application because the work involved in dealing with general correspondence regarding untidy properties over a six year period would constitute a substantial and unreasonable diversion of resources.
The applicant also disputed that third party information in complaint documents was exempt under the FOI Act. The Information Commissioner found that in most cases Council had provided the Applicant with the substance of the complaints and the release of this information to the applicant would not provide any additional information which would further the public interest. Therefore, the Information Commissioner found that the information qualified for exemption under section 44(1) of the FOI Act.