Wilkie and Queensland Industrial Relations Commission
(2005 F0719, 24 August 2006)
The applicant sought access to documents used in reinstatement proceedings in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) in relation to a prison officer. Specifically, the applicant was seeking documents containing references to the applicant. The QIRC Registry refused access to documents held by the QIRC Registry relating to the proceedings before the QIRC. The QIRC Registry claimed the documents were excluded from the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (FOI Act) because of s.11(1)(f) of the FOI Act.
Commissioner Taylor decided that the effect of s.11(1)(f) of the FOI Act when read together with s.11(2) is to exclude from the application of the FOI Act documents of a court registry created or received by the registry in performing a function related to the court’s judicial function.
Commissioner Taylor determined that as the QIRC is established under the Industrial Relations Act 1999 (IR Act), the question of whether the QIRC is a court depends on whether the QIRC is established under that Act as a court exercising judicial powers and functions. The QIRC is established as a “court of record” under s.255 of the IR Act. After examining the powers of the QIRC, in particular, the QIRC’s adjudicative jurisdiction and it’s powers to enforce its own decisions, and considering s.255 of the IR Act, Commissioner Taylor was satisfied that the QIRC is a court for the purposes of s.11(1)(f) of the FOI Act.
The documents held by the QIRC in relation to the prison officer were created or received by the registry in the course of specific reinstatement proceedings before the QIRC. Given the nature of the documents – affidavits, exhibits, QIRC orders and transcripts etc – Commissioner Taylor was satisfied that they were received or created by the Registry in performing a function related to the QIRC’s judicial functions. Therefore, the documents sought by the applicant were excluded from the application of the FOI Act by s.11(1)(f).
Commissioner Taylor also noted for completeness that, even if the documents were not excluded under s.11(1)(f) of the FOI Act, she was satisfied that there are no documents in the possession or under the control of the QIRC which fall within the scope of the applicant’s freedom of information application on the basis that the documents had been inspected and did not contain references to the applicant.