Vaughan and Brisbane City Council
(210433, 25 August 2008)
Section 35B Fees and charges for access to documents not concerning personal affairs
The applicant sought access to the letters of concern/complaint which he had sent to the Lord Mayor of Brisbane City Council (Council) and to Council’s responses to him in respect of those complaints. In processing the application, Council found that the some of the documents in issue did not concern the applicant’s personal affairs, and on this basis requested that the applicant pay an application fee. The applicant sought external review of Council’s decision that an application fee was payable.
The issue for determination was whether an application fee was payable in the circumstances, which in turn required an assessment of whether relevant documents in issue contained information concerning the applicant’s personal affairs.
Assistant Commissioner Henry considered the previous decisions of Pearce and Qld Rural Adjustment Authority (S186/98, 4 November 1999), Stewart and Department of Transport (1992) 1 QAR 227 and Byrne and Gold Coast City Council (1994) 1 QAR 477, and the case of Gilling v General Manager, Hawkesbury City Council  NSWADT 43 and found that:
· the applicant’s name and other identifying details appear on the relevant documents in a particular context, that is, the information identifies not just a person, but the person who holds the concerns set out in the documents
· in raising the concerns/making the complaints to the Lord Mayor, the applicant acted in his capacity as a private citizen exercising his privilege to make a private approach to a local representative about various matters which were of concern to him
· in accordance with the decisions and case referred to above, the relevant documents in issue are properly characterised as concerning the personal affairs of the applicant
· no application fee is payable in the circumstances under section 35B of the Freedom of Information Act 1992(Qld).