Wong and Medical Board of Queensland
(210196, 30 June 2008)
The applicant applied to the Medical Board of Queensland (Board) for access to documents concerning her appearance at the Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry (Bundaberg Inquiry) and documents concerning her dealings with Queensland Health. The applicant’s freedom of information (FOI) application was the last in a series of 10 applications which she made to the Board in 2005.
During the course of the FOI process, the Board located documents responsive to the FOI application and released them to the applicant. With respect to certain documents, the Board refused the applicant access on the basis of section 27(3), section 29B, section 43(1) and section 45(1)(c) of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (Qld) (FOI Act).
On external review, the Board accepted Assistant Commissioner (AC) Henry’s preliminary view that certain matter to which it refused the applicant access on the basis of section 27(3) and section 45(1)(c) of the FOI Act should be released to the applicant. The applicant accepted AC Henry’s preliminary view that the Board was entitled to rely on section 29B and section 43(1) of the FOI Act in refusing access to certain documents.
Section 43(1) of the FOI Act
In this review, AC Henry found that certain matter remaining in issue in Health Activity Assessment Summary Sheets (Health Assessment Sheets), to which the Board refused access on the basis of section 43(1) of the FOI Act, was not exempt from disclosure under section 43(1) of the FOI Act.
AC Henry found that the matter in issue in the Health Assessment Sheets referred to the existence of documents which themselves were subject to legal professional privilege but did not disclose the content or nature of those confidential communications. Accordingly, AC Henry found that the references did not amount to waiver of legal professional privilege and that the matter in issue was not exempt under section 43(1) of the FOI Act.
Sufficiency of search
On external review, the applicant raised a ‘sufficiency of search’ issue concerning documents associated with the Bundaberg Inquiry. The applicant contended that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the Board had, in its possession or under its control, additional documents relating to the applicant’s appearance at the Bundaberg Inquiry and a written submission provided by the Board to the Bundaberg Inquiry.
In examining the principles set out by the Information Commissioner in Shepherd v and Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning (1994) 1 QAR 464, AC Henry found that there were no reasonable grounds to believe that the Board had any further documents relating to the Bundaberg Inquiry in its possession or under its control.