Latest RTI decisions

Here are the most recent external review decisions of the Ombudsman under the Right to Information Act 2009. See RTI decisions since 2016 for other decisions.

    Robin Smith and City of Launceston No. 2 (Sep 2022)

    Mr Robin Smith is the owner of a small business in Launceston’s Brisbane Street Mall. He has a keen interest in how the City of Launceston (Council) is conducting its City Heart project. On 11 April 2019, Mr Smith submitted a request for assessed disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009 (the Act) to Council. He sought 33 types of information relating to Council’s use of resources and actions in relation to the project.

    On 16 May 2019 the Principal Officer of Council released a decision to Mr Smith, refusing all aspects of his application pursuant to s20(a) of the Act. Council determined that the information was the same or similar to information sought in previous applications by Mr Smith and that his current application did not disclose any reasonable basis for again seeking access to the information. Mr Smith applied for external review of the decision.

    The Ombudsman determined that:

    • Council had applied and interpreted s20(a) too broadly in relation to the majority of the items of information sought and it was to assess those parts of Mr Smith’s application in accordance with the provisions of the Act;
    • Council was entitled to refuse, pursuant to s12(3)(c)(i), four parts of Mr Smith’s application; and
    • Council was not required to respond to Item 29 of Mr Smith’s request, as it posed a clarifying question rather than seeking information already in existence.

    Robin Smith and City of Launceston No. 2 (Sep 2022) (PDF File, 250.3 KB)

    Robin Smith and City of Launceston No.1 (Sep 2022)

    Mr Robin Smith is the owner of a small business in Launceston’s Brisbane Street Mall. He has a keen interest in how the City of Launceston (Council) is conducting its City Heart project. On 16 January 2019, Mr Smith submitted a request for assessed disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009 (the Act) to Council. He sought 11 types of information relating to Council’s use of resources and actions in relation to the project.

    After negotiations with Mr Smith, Council released a decision on 6 February 2019, refusing all aspects of his application pursuant to s19 of the Act. Council determined that the work involved in providing the information requested would substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of Council from its other work. Following an application for internal review from Mr Smith, Council released a further decision on 26 April 2019, which affirmed the original decision. Mr Smith applied for external review of the decision.

    The Ombudsman determined that:

    • Council’s reliance on s19 was reasonable in relation to the broad and imprecise parts of Mr Smith’s request and it was entitled to refuse those parts of his request; and
    • Council was not entitled to refuse the more confined parts of Mr Smith’s request pursuant to s19. Council was directed to assess the information responsive to these parts of Mr Smith’s request in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

    Robin Smith and City of Launceston No.1 (Sep 2022) (PDF File, 185.8 KB)

    Suzanne Pattinson and Department of Education (Aug 2022)

    On 11 September 2020, Ms Suzanne Pattinson made an application for assessed disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009 (the Act) to the Department of Education (the Department). Ms Pattinson sought information relating to the Department’s management of the Rose Bay High School 2016 European School Tour and subsequent investigations. On 14 January 2021, the Department released a decision to Ms Pattinson. It determined to release the information in part, with some information found to be exempt under ss35 and 36 of the Act.

    Ms Pattinson applied for internal review and on 4 March 2021 the Department released slightly more information to Ms Pattinson but relied on the same provisions of the Act to exempt the remaining information. Ms Pattinson then sought external review of the Department’s internal review decision. As part of her external review Ms Pattinson sought a review of whether there had been an insufficiency in searching for information by the Department.

    The Ombudsman determined that:

    • Exemptions claimed pursuant to s35 were varied;
    • Exemptions claimed pursuant to s36 were varied; and
    • The Department’s search for information was sufficient.

    Suzanne Pattinson and Department of Education (Aug 2022) (PDF File, 292.2 KB)

    Geoffrey Swan and Huon Valley Council (Jun 2022)

    On 18 October 2021, Mr Geoffrey Swan made an application for assessed disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009 to the Huon Valley Council (Council). He sought information relating to the investigation into the recruitment process of Council’s new General Manager, commissioned following controversy regarding the way Council managed a conflict of interest that arose during that process. Council issued a decision on 13 October 2021 to refuse the application in full, on the basis that it considered the information exempt due to it relating to:

    • legal professional privilege (s31); and
    • information related to closed meetings of council (s32).

    Mr Swan then sought external review of Council’s decision.

    The Ombudsman determined that:

    • Council’s use of s31 was varied;
    • Council’s use of s32 was varied; and
    • Information was found to be exempt pursuant to s35 (internal deliberative information).

    Geoffrey Swan and Huon Valley Council (Jun 2022) (PDF File, 193.9 KB)

    F and Department of Education (Jun 2022)

    F and G are parents of a young son, A, who attended a school run by the Department of Education (the Department). F and G had concerns their son had been subjected to regular bullying by another boy, B. On 15 March 2018, F made an application under the Right to Information Act 2009 for information regarding A’s alleged bullying and the Department’s response to incidents and concerns raised by F and G.

    On 14 June 2018, the Department released a decision to F which released some information and found the remainder to be exempt under ss27, 35 and 36. F sought internal review regarding the exemptions applied and disputing that all relevant documents had been located and assessed. On 9 August 2018, the Department released an internal review decision to F. It located and released some additional information, finding the remainder to be exempt for on the same bases as in the original decision. F sought external review, again disputing the exemptions applied and whether the Department had undertaken a sufficient search for information responsive to his request.

    The Ombudsman determined that:

    • Exemptions claimed pursuant to s27 were affirmed;
    • Exemptions claimed pursuant to s35 were varied; and
    • Exemptions claimed pursuant to s36 were affirmed.

    He also determined that the Department did not conduct a sufficient search for information responsive to F’s request, but had taken appropriate steps to rectify the issues in searching by the conclusion of his external review.

    F and Department of Education (Jun 2022) (PDF File, 264.0 KB)