"(i)t is incumbent on the agency to ensure that it is adequately resourced to deal with applications in accordance with the FOI Act."
The attendance of persons from private sector organisations at SA Progressive Business functions is commercial information attaching to those organisations, is not made public, and is often information those organisations would not wish competitors in their industries to know. I therefore consider that the disclosure of this material could be reasonably expected to have an adverse effect on those person’s business affairs.
On the facts of this case however, I am not satisfied that the identities of the third parties, or the organisations they are associated with, constitute information concerning the business affairs of the individuals or the organisations in the context of the relevant documents. Much of the information concerns, in essence, individuals scheduled to attend a function, and reveals the organisations they were associated with at the relevant time.
I am not persuaded that it could reasonably be expected to follow that the third parties, or organisations they represented, would be adversely affected by release of the relevant documents. In saying this I note that it is commonly understood that organisations lobby the government and the opposition alike, and that this does not necessarily mean an affiliation exists with a particular political party. Such an approach is thought to demonstrate common business practice. Furthermore, as I have previously indicated, a significant amount of information demonstrating links between SAPB or the ALP and named individuals and/or organisations is publicly available, or has previously been released to the applicant.
The Ombudsman rejected the arguments against and ordered all documents in dispute to be released in their entirety.Third party 10 claims that the relevant documents contain ‘commercially sensitive trade secrets which are of commercial value’ to the company they are associated with and another company (the other company), and information concerning the commercial affairs of those companies. Third party 10 considers the fact of their attendance at an SAPB function, among other things, to be exempt, because it may inform competitors of their ‘confidential marketing activities, business strategy and business dealings’, which may in turn adversely affect the company and the future supply of the information to the agency.