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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Rider in FOI determination doesn't give rise to review or amendment rights

Throwing in a few words in a notice of determination that have little to do with the decision to release or not release the requested documents did not render the decision void, voidable or otherwise invalid, and was not a matter within Tribunal jurisdiction ruled Judicial Member Malony of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal in GA v University of Sydney [2010] NSWADT 76, a matter that clearly has plenty of history.

The issue argued by the FOI applicant was the inclusion of the words "The University does not admit any assumption made or implied in your FOI application" in the original decision and internal review determination. Senior Member Malony said:
"The issue for the Tribunal on external review is whether or not GA should have access to the documents requested, not whether or not the rider is or is not authorised by the Act."[38]
Another aspect of the matter concerned a decision by the Tribunal Registrar to refuse to amend the record by redacting the same words from documents lodged in proceedings. Judicial Member Malony said the decision was correct  because the sentence in a document containing the applicant' name was not information about GA’s personal affairs for the purpose of the amendment provisions of the FOI act [58].

Finally the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to consider a claim for review under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act concerning the inclusion of these words in documents held by the University because the sentence did not contain personal information about GA - that is, information or opinion about him [71].

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