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Friday, August 04, 2006

ADT FOI decision: participation in Aboriginal Land Council meeting not personal affairs

In Parkinson v Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council (2006) NSWADT 216 the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal decided that names of members of the Council, and those who attended a meeting to determine whether a parcel of land was or was not of cultural significance to Aborigines, was not exempt under the FOI Act.

It agreed that other information including date of birth and home address was information concerning personal affairs and that disclosure would be unreasonable (Clause 6 Schedule 1).

Some interesting arguments for and against disclosure were put by the applicant and the respondent, but in the end the Tribunal went back to basics – context determines whether a person’s name in the absence of other details is information concerning personal affairs. In this case names of members of the Council participating in a meeting required by the Aboriginal Land Rights Act would reveal nothing about personal affairs.

The Tribunal also found that information about a price that the Council would accept for sale of the land was exempt under Clause 7(1)(b) – information of a commercial value that would be destroyed or diminished by disclosure – but added that it wouldn’t have reached this conclusion if the land had already been sold.

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