Watkins Pacific Limited and Queensland Rail; Gold Coast Bulletin (Third Party)
(1995 S0099, 6 March 1998)
This 'reverse FOI' case involved the application of s.45(1)(c), and the principles set out in Cannon and Australian Quality Egg Farms Limited (1994) 1 QAR 491, to parts of a report prepared by consulting engineers retained by Queensland Rail to investigate allegations that unsafe construction practices had been adopted by the applicant on a segment of the Beenleigh-Robina railway line.
The matter in issue did not include the findings in relation to the allegations. It was limited to matter recording allegations, discussion of the adequacy of supervision (by Queensland Rail officers) of construction work undertaken by the applicant, and information relating to the commissioning and creation of the report.
The Information Commissioner found (having regard to the extent to which the allegations had already been made public, the lapse of time since the allegations had been made, and the fact that the rail line had been completed and had operated successfully for some time) that any adverse effect on the applicant's business affairs from disclosure of the matter in issue would be minimal. The Information Commissioner found that the public interest in accountability of Queensland Rail for taking steps to assure the quality and safety of a significant public undertaking, outweighed any minimal prejudice to the business affairs of the applicant, and that disclosure of the matter in issue would, on balance, be in the public interest.