Whittaker and Public Service Commission (310127)

Application number:
Decision date:
Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010

Section 47(3)(e) Right to Information Act – refusal of access

Section 52(1)(a) Right to Information Act – nonexistent or unlocatable documents



The applicant sought access to documents relating to his employment with the Department of Community Safety, held by the Public Service Commission (PSC). 


Initially, the PSC identified a small number of responsive documents but was able to locate additional documents on internal review.  The applicant applied for external review of PSC’s decision that no additional documents could be located and submitted that further responsive documents should exist.  The applicant also queried why certain specific documents could not be located.


The PSC acknowledged inconsistencies in its initial search results, addressed the specific issues raised by the applicant and provided reasons as to why certain documents do not exist.


Right to Information Commissioner Smith applied the principles of PDE and University of Queensland (Unreported, Qld Information Commissioner, 9 February 2009) to the question of whether access to documents can be refused under sections 47(3)(e) and 52(1)(a) of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act).


After considering the parties’ submissions and the evidence before her, the Right to Information Commissioner was satisfied that:


·          there were reasonable grounds for PSC to be satisfied that additional documents did not exist

·          while PSC’s initial searches were limited, its subsequent searches were comprehensive and on that basis, PSC had taken all reasonable steps to locate the additional documents sought and no additional documents could be located.


On this basis, the Right to Information Commissioner was satisfied that access to additional documents could be refused under sections 47(3)(e) and 52(1)(a) of the RTI Act.