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Tribunal: Senior Member R Cameron

The applicant had made privacy complaints to a number of Commonwealth agencies.[1] He was seeking access to several documents held by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) in relation to these complaints.

The key issue in this matter was whether or not the documents were conditionally exempt because their disclosure would impact on the proper and efficient conduct of an agency.[2]

In 2016, the OAIC found that the documents were conditionally exempt because at that time, it was investigating the applicant’s privacy complaints. To release the documents in full would impact on the OAIC’s ability to perform its privacy complaint functions. The applicant was dissatisfied with this response as he already had access to some of the conditionally exempt documents – for example, emails that had been sent to him.

In 2016, the OAIC made an application to the AAT seeking that the matter be remitted for reconsideration.[3]  The applicant did not agree to the proposed orders.[4]

The investigation carried out by the OAIC subsequently concluded. Since all the documents were no longer subject to the claimed exemption under the FOI Act, the respondent submitted that the Tribunal should release the documents to the applicant. The AAT substituted a decision to that effect and ordered that the OAIC release, in full, the documents under section 11 of the FOI Act.

Read the full decision on AustLII.

 

[1] The complaints had been made to several agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defence, National Health & Medical Research Council, Australian Government Solicitor, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

[2] Section 47E(d) of the FOI Act.

[3] Section 42D of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth).