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Friday, May 04, 2007

Queensland Information Commissioner FOI resources

The Queensland Information Commissioner's website has been revamped and includes a more comprehensive set of information sheets now called "FOI concepts" on key interpretation issues, particularly common exemption provisions. While written specifically on Queensland's Freedom of Information Act, and relevant Information Commissioner decisions, these materials are valuable to anyone around the country working in the field or interested in FOI. Differences in legislation, and any particular court or tribunal decisions that apply, of course need to be taken into account.

The Decisions Page has several indexes including one that links relevant decisions to sections of the Act.

An interesting recent decision (Murphy Schmidt Solicitors and Department of Justice and Attorney General, Application no. 210083), PDF involved consideration of an important issue - whether the public interest of enabling the applicant to evaluate and possibly pursue a legal remedy against a third party, justified disclosure of information concerning the personal affairs of others.

Assistant Commissioner Henry, acting on the precedent of an earlier decision, ruled in favour of disclosure. While such a public interest needs to be weighed against other considerations, and to the extent known, the greater the loss or damage and or the prospects of success will also be relevant, the test laid down is that the FOI applicant in these circumstances needs to demonstrate that:
"(a) loss or damage or some kind of wrong has been suffered, in respect of which a remedy is, or may be, available under the law;
(b) the applicant has a reasonable basis for seeking to pursue the remedy; and
(c) disclosure of the information held by the agency would assist the applicant to pursue the remedy, or to evaluate whether a remedy is available, or worth pursuing"

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