WLS and Queensland Rail
(2001 S0203, 31 October 2002)
The applicant's conduct as a driver with the respondent was the subject of complaints from several fellow employees, including allegations of improper use of drugs. The respondent suspended the applicant and investigated the allegations, but found them to be unsubstantiated. The applicant sought access to all documents concerning the allegations and their investigation by the respondent. Following concessions made by the respondent during the course of the review, the only matter remaining in issue comprised names and other information which would identify the complainants, and a small amount of matter which solely concerned the personal affairs of third parties.
The Deputy Information Commissioner decided that the matter in issue that concerned the third parties' personal affairs was exempt under s.44(1) of the FOI Act. He was satisfied that its disclosure would not, on balance, be in the public interest because it would not add anything to the applicant's understanding of the complaints made against him, or of the respondent's investigation of those complaints.
The Deputy Information Commissioner also decided held that information which would identity the complainants was exempt under s.40(c) of the FOI Act, as its disclosure would be likely to discourage employees of the respondent from reporting similar concerns in the future. The applicant had already been provided with a significant amount of information concerning the substance of the complaints, the subsequent investigation, and its outcome. The Deputy Information Commissioner found that the public interest in the ability of the respondent to receive and investigate complaints of allegedly hazardous workplace behaviour outweighed the public interest in providing the applicant with further information.