Veenstra and Department of Public Works and Housing

Application number:
1996 S0163
Decision date:
Monday, Dec 14, 1998

Veenstra and Department of Public Works and Housing
(1996 S0163, 14 December 1998) 

The applicant sought access to documents relevant to an investigation conducted by the respondent agency into a grievance lodged by the applicant alleging discrimination against him by staff of the respondent agency. 

The documents in issue comprised working notes made by the appointed grievance investigator.  The applicant had already been given access to the final report of the grievance investigator.  The evidence before the Information Commissioner established that each staff member interviewed was given an undertaking by the grievance investigator that information provided in the course of the investigation would be kept confidential. 

The Information Commissioner commented that it was unwise for grievance investigators to make blanket promises of confidentiality, because the legal duty to accord procedural fairness may require disclosure to the parties to the grievance of critical evidence (although that was not the case in respect of the matter remaining in issue). 

Applying principles stated in Pemberton and The University of Queensland (1994) 2 QAR 293, and McCann and Queensland Police (1997) 4 QAR 30, the Information Commissioner found the matter remaining in issue to be exempt matter under s.40(c) of the FOI Act. 

The Information Commissioner noted that this was not a case in which s.15 and s.16 of the Public Service Regulation 1997 Qld (or their predecessor provisions) had any application.  See Chambers and Department of Families, Youth and Community Care (1999) 5 QAR 16.