RTI Decisions since 2016

William Yabsley and Department of Justice (December 2019)

Mr Yabsley asked for a range of information from the Supreme Court of Tasmania. This was in relation to a matter that involved him. The Department refused some of the request on the basis it was already available to Mr Yabsley for a reasonable fee. It also refused the other parts on the basis the Supreme Court is an excluded body under s6. The Ombudsman upheld this decision.

William Yabsley and Department of Justice (PDF, 1.2 MB)

Richard Webb and DPIPWE (January 2020)

Mr Webb sought information from the Department in relation to the development proposal on Halls Island, Lake Malbena. The request sought a range of information that primarily included some leases for Halls Island and some documents to the relevant Minister.

One of the core parts of this review was whether or not the two leases sought for Halls Island was information obtained in confidence as claimed by the Department. The Ombudsman overturned this in full on the basis the Department's own lease documents could not constitute information obtained in confidence that, if released, would impair its ability to obtain similar information in the future.

Richard Webb and DPIPWE (PDF, 1.5 MB)

William Yabsley and Department of Justice (December 2019)

Mr Yabsley asked for a range of information from the Supreme Court of Tasmania. This was in relation to a matter that involved him. The Department refused some of the request on the basis it was already available to Mr Yabsley for a reasonable fee. It also refused the other parts on the basis the Supreme Court is an excluded body under s6. The Ombudsman upheld this decision.

William Yabsley and Department of Justice (PDF, 1.2 MB)

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (October 2019)

Mr Atkin, an ABC journalist, submitted a request to Tasmania Police seeking information in relation to the gun trafficking trade in Tasmania in February 2015. Nearly 300 pages of information were claimed exempt under a range of different sections given the sensitivity of the information. The application of the various sections was largely supported by this office with a few minor changes to Tasmania Police’s decision.

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Atkin and Forestry Tasmania (Sustainable Timber Tasmania)

After the 2014 state election, Mr Atkin, a Tasmanian-based journalist for the ABC at that time, submitted an application for assessed disclosure seeking information that covered emails and other briefings about FSC certification. This included an Incoming Government Briefing (IGB).

This primarily considers the exemption of the IGB and the decision of this office to release parts of it as purely factual information.

Atkin and Forestry Tasmania (Sustainable Timber Tasmania) (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Damien Matcham and Brighton Council (January 2018)

Mr Matcham requested seven years' worth of Council related credit card statements and several years worth of the General Manager's diary appointments among other things.  Council refused the bulk of the decision under s19 on the basis the work required would be a substantial and unreasonable diversion of its resources from its other work.  Some of the information, it claimed, was already publicly available and it subsequently refused to release it under s12 of the Act.  The use of s19 was varied - set aside for the credit card statements, but affirmed for the diary entries.  A refusal under s12 is not a reviewable decision under the Act.

Damien Matcham and Brighton Council  (PDF, 1.0 MB)

Timothy Kirkwood and Tasmanian Planning Commission (February 2017)

Mr Kirkwood (Manager of Southern Midlands Council) requested information provided by a third party to the Commission outside of its usual hearing/determination process. The Ombudsman was satisfied that any such information held in respect of the third party related to the Commission’s ‘official business’ and hence was subject to the Right to Information Act 2009. However, all such information was exempt under s36 and it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this.

The decision also explored the interplay between information  ‘otherwise available’ under s12(3)(c) of the Right to Information Act 2009 and information (written evidence and submission documents) subject to an obligation to be made public under s12 of the Tasmanian Planning Commission Act 1997.

Timothy Kirkwood and Tasmanian Planning Commission (PDF, 722.1 KB)

Atkin and Forestry Tasmania (Sustainable Timber Tasmania)

After the 2014 state election, Mr Atkin, a Tasmanian-based journalist for the ABC at that time, submitted an application for assessed disclosure seeking information that covered emails and other briefings about FSC certification. This included an Incoming Government Briefing (IGB).

This primarily considers the exemption of the IGB and the decision of this office to release parts of it as purely factual information.

Atkin and Forestry Tasmania (Sustainable Timber Tasmania) (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Patrick Billings and Department of Health and Human Services (December 2016)

Mr Billings (a journalist on ‘The Mercury’ newspaper) requested CCTV footage of an event at Ashley Youth Detention Centre in July 2016.  The Ombudsman determined that the footage should not be released, as various exemption grounds under s30(1) of the Right to Information Act 2009 were satisfied.  Under the Act, s30 exemptions are not subject to the public interest test at s33.

Patrick Billings and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 448.4 KB)

Environment Tasmania and DPIPWE (November 2019)

Environment Tasmania asked the Department to provide a range of information about fin-fish farming around Tasmania. The first response was a possible refusal under s19. This was due to the size and complexity of what has been sought. The scope was revised and focused on a smaller sub-set of information about Okehampton Bay. The Department refused its release claiming it would expose a third party to competitive disadvantage under s37. The Ombudsman set this decision aside. While s37 might have been able to apply, it did not satisfy the public interest test.

Environment Tasmania and DPIPWE (PDF, 2.5 MB)

Gina Green and King Island Council (June 2018)

Ms Green alleged that a development application that was put out for public comment by King Island Council was different to the actual development. Ms Green submitted an application for assessed disclosure to Council, seeking a copy of the DA.

Council refused the application under s19 on the basis it only allocated 1% of one of its officer's time to processing RTI applications. The Ombudsman determined this was not appropriate and overturned the use of s19, directing an assessed disclosure be undertaken.

Gina Green and King Island Council  (PDF, 1.2 MB)

Rosalie Woodruff and DPIPWE (June 2018)

In an original application, Ms Woodruff requested information from the Department in relation to four fin-fish farming organisations. The Department originally applied s19 and appropriately offered Ms Woodruff an opportunity to revise her application.

Ms Woodruff did this, cutting the application down to just one of those companies. Once that decision was completed, Ms Woodruff then submitted two additional applications - each one dealing with one of the three remaining companies removed from her original application. The Department refused this under s20 claiming it a repeat application.

Rosalie Woodruff and DPIPWE (PDF, 2.5 MB)

Damien Matcham and Brighton Council (January 2018)

Mr Matcham requested seven years' worth of Council related credit card statements and several years worth of the General Manager's diary appointments among other things.  Council refused the bulk of the decision under s19 on the basis the work required would be a substantial and unreasonable diversion of its resources from its other work.  Some of the information, it claimed, was already publicly available and it subsequently refused to release it under s12 of the Act.  The use of s19 was varied - set aside for the credit card statements, but affirmed for the diary entries.  A refusal under s12 is not a reviewable decision under the Act.

Damien Matcham and Brighton Council  (PDF, 1.0 MB)

Rosalie Woodruff and DPIPWE (June 2018)

In an original application, Ms Woodruff requested information from the Department in relation to four fin-fish farming organisations. The Department originally applied s19 and appropriately offered Ms Woodruff an opportunity to revise her application.

Ms Woodruff did this, cutting the application down to just one of those companies. Once that decision was completed, Ms Woodruff then submitted two additional applications - each one dealing with one of the three remaining companies removed from her original application. The Department refused this under s20 claiming it a repeat application.

Rosalie Woodruff and DPIPWE (PDF, 2.5 MB)

Environment Tasmania and Environment Protection Agency (June 2017)

Environment Tasmania requested information about Huon Aquaculture’s Lonnavale Hatchery and its effect on the Russell River. Some information was released but the EPA considered that all other information was exempt under s39(1)  of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Information obtained in confidence) in the first instance because it had been voluntarily provided by Huon.  On review the Ombudsman determined that none of the remaining information was exempt under s39(1) as disclosure of the information would not be reasonably likely to impair the ability of a public authority or Minister to obtain similar information in the future: s39(1)(b). However,  much of the information was found to be exempt under s37(1) (Information relating to business affairs of third party) and, whilst it was contrary to the public interest to release raw monitoring data,  the Ombudsman determined that it was not contrary to release all other information.

Environment Tasmania and Environment Protection Agency (PDF, 1.6 MB)

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (October 2019)

Mr Atkin, an ABC journalist, submitted a request to Tasmania Police seeking information in relation to the gun trafficking trade in Tasmania in February 2015. Nearly 300 pages of information were claimed exempt under a range of different sections given the sensitivity of the information. The application of the various sections was largely supported by this office with a few minor changes to Tasmania Police’s decision.

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Rudra Sharma and DPIPWE (March 2020)

Mr Sharma has had ongoing interactions with the Land Titles Office in relation to his property in Sandy Bay. There was an adverse decision not to approve something Mr Sharma sought and he subsequently submitted a request for the information relating to that decision.

The Department refused the release of the information on the basis it formed internally deliberative material and the public interest test did not support its release. The Ombudsman found this was not fully correct and he varied the decision.

The common issues with this decision relate to proper consideration of use of s35 and the public interest test.

Rudra Sharma and DPIPWE (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (October 2019)

Mr Atkin, an ABC journalist, submitted a request to Tasmania Police seeking information in relation to the gun trafficking trade in Tasmania in February 2015. Nearly 300 pages of information were claimed exempt under a range of different sections given the sensitivity of the information. The application of the various sections was largely supported by this office with a few minor changes to Tasmania Police’s decision.

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Atkin and Forestry Tasmania (Sustainable Timber Tasmania) (October 2018)

After the 2014 state election, Mr Atkin, a Tasmanian-based journalist for the ABC at that time, submitted an application for assessed disclosure seeking information that covered emails and other briefings about FSC certification. This included an Incoming Government Briefing (IGB).

This primarily considers the exemption of the IGB and the decision of this office to release parts of it as purely factual information.

Atkin and Forestry Tasmania (Sustainable Timber Tasmania) (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Baines and Department of Education (May 2018)

Mr Baines sought a range of information from the Department of Education in relation to a presentation that was to be held by Mr Steve Biddulph. Ultimately, the decision addressed whether information contained in Question Time Briefs (QTB) and Notices of Motion (NoM), among other things, could be exempt under s27 on the basis it was internal briefing information of a Minister.

Baines and Department of Education (PDF, 650.7 KB)

Bryan Green and Department of Treasury and Finance (July 2017)

The applicant sought information about briefings the Department had prepared in relation to GST distribution as a result of the Australian Government budget.   On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, and s36 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information.  Despite the claims of the Department, names of staff who had prepared and cleared the briefings were not maintained as exempt.

Bryan Green and Department of Treasury and Finance (PDF, 700.3 KB)

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (June 2017)

The applicant sought information about a for-profit residential care provider, including payments made to it by the Department. On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, s36 and s39 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information. Despite the claims of the Department, no information was found to be exempt under s37. However, some information was to be disclosed, including payments made by the Department to the provider, subject to redaction of identifying personal information, as well as factual information contained in information which might otherwise be exempt under s27(1) or s35(1) of the Act.  The Department submitted that certain information could not be disclosed by virtue of either s16, s103 or s111A of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 Act but the Ombudsman was not generally satisfied of this, considering that the Department was taking too broad a view of the purpose of that Act, although some information was found to be subject to s111A and was not to be disclosed.

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 1.8 MB)

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (March 2017)

Mr Atkin (a journalist with the ABC’s 7.30 Report) requested information concerning a third party’s mussel enterprise, including personal information. The Ombudsman determined that the remaining undisclosed information was exempt in accordance with s27, s35 and s36 of the Right to Information Act 2009.   On considering the public interest, the Ombudsman found that the s35 information should remain exempt, whist in the unusual circumstances of this case, it was not contrary to the public interest to disclose the personal information in question.

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (PDF, 500.8 KB)

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (October 2019)

Mr Atkin, an ABC journalist, submitted a request to Tasmania Police seeking information in relation to the gun trafficking trade in Tasmania in February 2015. Nearly 300 pages of information were claimed exempt under a range of different sections given the sensitivity of the information. The application of the various sections was largely supported by this office with a few minor changes to Tasmania Police’s decision.

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (PDF, 1.1 MB)

S and Tasmania Police (August 2019)

S's sister passed away and an investigation was conducted by Tasmania Police. S was not satisfied with some aspects and utilised the Right to Information Act to obtain information to assist her work out the cause of death. S rejects the finding of suicide and believes more sinister actions are responsible.  The Ombudsman determined that the redacted information was not exempt under s30 and the information was released in full.

S and Tasmania Police (PDF, 275.8 KB)

Mandy Squires and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (March 2019)

Ms Squires (a journalist with NewsCorp) sought information from the Department about the death of 16 ponies on the Spirit of Tasmania. This was a serious incident and sparked a lot of interest among the media and the public. This is an interesting matter in that a strong public interest does not necessarily guarantee release of information in the right circumstances. The Department relied on exemptions due to enforcement of the law, third party business information, and information obtained in confidence. The decision only upholds those exemptions relating to the enforcement of the law and overturns the others.

Mandy Squires and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (PDF, 2.2 MB)

Patrick Billings and Department of Health and Human Services (December 2016)

Mr Billings (a journalist on ‘The Mercury’ newspaper) requested CCTV footage of an event at Ashley Youth Detention Centre in July 2016.  The Ombudsman determined that the footage should not be released, as various exemption grounds under s30(1) of the Right to Information Act 2009 were satisfied.  Under the Act, s30 exemptions are not subject to the public interest test at s33.

Patrick Billings and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 448.4 KB)

Christine Smart and City of Launceston

Ms Smart requested information relating to the legal costs incurred by Council in relation to her property, specifically her fence line that bordered an alleyway, that had historically been there for decades. A review of the boundaries identified the discrepancy and Ms Smart was asked to correct it.

Ms Smart's application for assessed disclosure sought the the amount of legal costs incurred by Council after she challenged Council's decision. This matter primarily looks at whether or not the legal costs incurred constitute privileged information.

Christine Smart and City of Launceston (PDF, 1.1 MB)

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The Mercury and City of Hobart

The information at issue was whether information contained in a memorandum of Council constituted legal professional privilege under s31.  This was in response to Council seeking legal advice relating to the Facebook parody page, "Hobart City Council".

The Mercury and City of Hobart (PDF, 124.7 KB)

Christine Smart and City of Launceston

Ms Smart requested information relating to the legal costs incurred by Council in relation to her property, specifically her fence line that bordered an alleyway, that had historically been there for decades. A review of the boundaries identified the discrepancy and Ms Smart was asked to correct it.

Ms Smart's application for assessed disclosure sought the the amount of legal costs incurred by Council after she challenged Council's decision. This matter primarily looks at whether or not the legal costs incurred constitute privileged information.

Christine Smart and City of Launceston (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Dr Michael Powell and the University of Tasmania

Dr Powell submitted a request to UTAS after his contract was not continued. Dr Powell was of the view this was a result of a public comment he made that was contrary to the views of the then sitting member for Bass, Andrew Nikolic. Dr Powell sought information that UTAS claimed exempt as legal professional privilege.

Dr Michael Powell and the University of Tasmania (PDF, 754.3 KB)

Rudra Sharma and DPIPWE (March 2020)

Mr Sharma has had ongoing interactions with the Land Titles Office in relation to his property in Sandy Bay. There was an adverse decision not to approve something Mr Sharma sought and he subsequently submitted a request for the information relating to that decision.

The Department refused the release of the information on the basis it formed internally deliberative material and the public interest test did not support its release. The Ombudsman found this was not fully correct and he varied the decision.

The common issues with this decision relate to proper consideration of use of s35 and the public interest test.

Rudra Sharma and DPIPWE (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Richard Webb and DPIPWE (January 2020)

Mr Webb sought information from the Department in relation to the development proposal on Halls Island, Lake Malbena. The request sought a range of information that primarily included some leases for Halls Island and some documents to the relevant Minister.

One of the core parts of this review was whether or not the two leases sought for Halls Island was information obtained in confidence as claimed by the Department. The Ombudsman overturned this in full on the basis the Department's own lease documents could not constitute information obtained in confidence that, if released, would impair its ability to obtain similar information in the future.

Richard Webb and DPIPWE (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Damon Smith and Tasmania Police (October 2019)

Mr Smith sought information from Tasmania Police in relation to a complaint he had made. Specifically, he sought a copy of the investigation notes and details that resulted from his complaint.

Tasmania Police exempted some information and released other pieces directly to the applicant. There was some negotiation with Police during this review that resulted in Tasmania Police voluntarily releasing extra information. As a result there were very few pieces of information the Ombudsman determined should additionally be released to the applicant.

Damon Smith and Tasmania Police (PDF, 888.3 KB)

Sharon Bakewell and Tasmanian Police (August 2019)

Ms Bakewell's sister passed away in St Helens and an investigation was conducted by Tasmania Police. Ms Bakewell was not satisfied with some aspects and utilised the Right to Information Act to obtain information in assisting work out the cause of death. Ms Bakewell refutes the finding of suicide and believes more sinister actions are responsible.  The Ombudsman determined that the information at hand was not exempt under s35 and the information as released in full.

Sharon Bakewell and Tasmanian Police (PDF, 275.8 KB)

Atkin and Forestry Tasmania (Sustainable Timber Tasmania) (October 2018)

After the 2014 state election, Mr Atkin, a Tasmanian-based journalist for the ABC at that time, submitted an application for assessed disclosure seeking information that covered emails and other briefings about FSC certification. This included an Incoming Government Briefing (IGB).

This primarily considers the exemption of the IGB and the decision of this office to release parts of it as purely factual information.

Atkin and Forestry Tasmania (Sustainable Timber Tasmania) (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Tim Baird and City of Launceston (November 2017)

Mr Baird requested information relating to the City of Launceston's plan to upgrade the Sea Port Boardwalk.  Specifically, Mr Baird sought information leading to the appointment of Darcon Pty Ltd as the successful tenderer.

This decision considered the points of 'competitive disadvantage' under s37 and the balance between public interest and deliberative information.

Tim Baird and City of Launceston (PDF, 689.3 KB)

Bryan Green and Department of Treasury and Finance (July 2017)

The applicant sought information about briefings the Department had prepared in relation to GST distribution as a result of the Australian Government budget.   On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, and s36 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information.  Despite the claims of the Department, names of staff who had prepared and cleared the briefings were not maintained as exempt.

Bryan Green and Department of Treasury and Finance (PDF, 700.3 KB)

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (June 2017)

The applicant sought information about a for-profit residential care provider, including payments made to it by the Department. On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, s36 and s39 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information. Despite the claims of the Department, no information was found to be exempt under s37. However, some information was to be disclosed, including payments made by the Department to the provider, subject to redaction of identifying personal information, as well as factual information contained in information which might otherwise be exempt under s27(1) or s35(1) of the Act.  The Department submitted that certain information could not be disclosed by virtue of either s16, s103 or s111A of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 Act but the Ombudsman was not generally satisfied of this, considering that the Department was taking too broad a view of the purpose of that Act, although some information was found to be subject to s111A and was not to be disclosed.

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 1.8 MB)

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (March 2017)

Mr Atkin (a journalist with the ABC’s 7.30 Report) requested information concerning a third party’s mussel enterprise, including personal information. The Ombudsman determined that the remaining undisclosed information was exempt in accordance with s27, s35 and s36 of the Right to Information Act 2009.   On considering the public interest, the Ombudsman found that the s35 information should remain exempt, whist in the unusual circumstances of this case, it was not contrary to the public interest to disclose the personal information in question.

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (PDF, 500.8 KB)

Patrick Billings and Department of Health and Human Services (January 2017)

On review, Mr Billings (a journalist on ‘The Mercury’ newspaper) requested the full Operational Review in relation to Ambulance Tasmania’s State Communications Centre power failure and shutdown in July 2015.   The Ombudsman determined that parts of the Operational Review were subject to exemption under s35 of the Right to Information Act 2009 - internal deliberative document - and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information.

Patrick Billings and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 425.1 KB)

Richard Webb and DPIPWE (January 2020)

Mr Webb sought information from the Department in relation to the development proposal on Halls Island, Lake Malbena. The request sought a range of information that primarily included some leases for Halls Island and some documents to the relevant Minister.

One of the core parts of this review was whether or not the two leases sought for Halls Island was information obtained in confidence as claimed by the Department. The Ombudsman overturned this in full on the basis the Department's own lease documents could not constitute information obtained in confidence that, if released, would impair its ability to obtain similar information in the future.

Richard Webb and DPIPWE (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Graham Gourlay and UTAS (December 2019)

At the time of the request for information, Mr Gourlay was a student at UTAS. He had applied to the ethics committee for approval to undertake some research. The approval was denied. Mr Gourlay sought the names of the members of the ethics committee. The University denied this claiming it was exempt information under s36 and that the public interest test did not support its released. The Ombudsman overturned this decision.

Graham Gourlay and UTAS  (PDF, 1.0 MB)

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (October 2019)

Mr Atkin, an ABC journalist, submitted a request to Tasmania Police seeking information in relation to the gun trafficking trade in Tasmania in February 2015. Nearly 300 pages of information were claimed exempt under a range of different sections given the sensitivity of the information. The application of the various sections was largely supported by this office with a few minor changes to Tasmania Police’s decision.

Michael Atkin and Tasmania Police (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Bryan Green and Department of Treasury and Finance (July 2017)

The applicant sought information about briefings the Department had prepared in relation to GST distribution as a result of the Australian Government budget.   On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, and s36 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information.  Despite the claims of the Department, names of staff who had prepared and cleared the briefings were not maintained as exempt.

Bryan Green and Department of Treasury and Finance (PDF, 700.3 KB)

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (June 2017)

The applicant sought information about a for-profit residential care provider, including payments made to it by the Department. On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, s36 and s39 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information. Despite the claims of the Department, no information was found to be exempt under s37. However, some information was to be disclosed, including payments made by the Department to the provider, subject to redaction of identifying personal information, as well as factual information contained in information which might otherwise be exempt under s27(1) or s35(1) of the Act.  The Department submitted that certain information could not be disclosed by virtue of either s16, s103 or s111A of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 Act but the Ombudsman was not generally satisfied of this, considering that the Department was taking too broad a view of the purpose of that Act, although some information was found to be subject to s111A and was not to be disclosed.

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 1.8 MB)

A and Tasmania Police (March 2017)

The information at issue was whether the will of the applicant’s late parent should be disclosed to them. This decision discusses the requirements of s36 (personal information of a person) of the Right to Information Act 2009 and the intersection it has with the Wills Act 2008. As these Acts appear at face value to contradict each other, the issue of implied repeal by later statute is also considered.

A and Tasmania Police (PDF, 97.5 KB)

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (March 2017)

Mr Atkin (a journalist with the ABC’s 7.30 Report) requested information concerning a third party’s mussel enterprise, including personal information. The Ombudsman determined that the remaining undisclosed information was exempt in accordance with s27, s35 and s36 of the Right to Information Act 2009.   On considering the public interest, the Ombudsman found that the s35 information should remain exempt, whist in the unusual circumstances of this case, it was not contrary to the public interest to disclose the personal information in question.

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (PDF, 500.8 KB)

Timothy Kirkwood and Tasmanian Planning Commission (February 2017)

Mr Kirkwood (Manager of Southern Midlands Council) requested information provided by a third party to the Commission outside of its usual hearing/determination process. The Ombudsman was satisfied that any such information held in respect of the third party related to the Commission’s ‘official business’ and hence was subject to the Right to Information Act 2009. However, all such information was exempt under s36 and it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this.

The decision also explored the interplay between information  ‘otherwise available’ under s12(3)(c) of the Right to Information Act 2009 and information (written evidence and submission documents) subject to an obligation to be made public under s12 of the Tasmanian Planning Commission Act 1997.

Timothy Kirkwood and Tasmanian Planning Commission (PDF, 722.1 KB)

Nick McKim and DPIPWE (December 2019)

In June 2014, the Tasmanian Government called for expressions of interest for developments in Tasmanian national parks. Senator McKim requested the proposed locations these developments in November 2014. The Department claimed this information was exempt as it was obtained in confidence and that it was not in the public interest to release it to the public. The Ombudsman overturned this decision and the list was released to Senator McKim.

Nick McKim and DPIPWE (PDF, 6.0 MB)

Environment Tasmania and DPIPWE (November 2019)

Environment Tasmania asked the Department to provide a range of information about fin-fish farming around Tasmania. The first response was a possible refusal under s19. This was due to the size and complexity of what has been sought. The scope was revised and focused on a smaller sub-set of information about Okehampton Bay. The Department refused its release claiming it would expose a third party to competitive disadvantage under s37. The Ombudsman set this decision aside. While s37 might have been able to apply, it did not satisfy the public interest test.

Environment Tasmania and DPIPWE  (PDF, 2.5 MB)

Christine Smart and City of Launceston

Ms Smart requested information relating to the legal costs incurred by Council in relation to her property, specifically her fence line that bordered an alleyway, that had historically been there for decades. A review of the boundaries identified the discrepancy and Ms Smart was asked to correct it.

Ms Smart's application for assessed disclosure sought the the amount of legal costs incurred by Council after she challenged Council's decision. This matter primarily looks at whether or not the legal costs incurred constitute privileged information.

Christine Smart and City of Launceston (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Mandy Squires and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (March 2019)

Ms Squires (a journalist with NewsCorp) sought information from the Department about the death of 16 ponies on the Spirit of Tasmania. This was a serious incident and sparked a lot of interest among the media and the public. This is an interesting matter in that a strong public interest does not necessarily guarantee release of information in the right circumstances. The Department relied on exemptions due to enforcement of the law, third party business information, and information obtained in confidence. The decision only upholds those exemptions relating to the enforcement of the law and overturns the others.

Mandy Squires and DPIPWE (PDF, 2.2 MB)

Tim Baird and City of Launceston (November 2017)

Mr Baird requested information relating to the City of Launceston's plan to upgrade the Sea Port Boardwalk.  Specifically, Mr Baird sought information leading to the appointment of Darcon Pty Ltd as the successful tenderer.

This decision considered the points of 'competitive disadvantage' under s37 and the balance between public interest and deliberative information.

Tim Baird and City of Launceston (November 2017) (PDF, 689.3 KB)

Environment Tasmania and Environment Protection Agency (June 2017)

Environment Tasmania requested information about Huon Aquaculture’s Lonnavale Hatchery and its effect on the Russell River. Some information was released but the EPA considered that all other information was exempt under s39(1)  of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Information obtained in confidence) in the first instance because it had been voluntarily provided by Huon.  On review the Ombudsman determined that none of the remaining information was exempt under s39(1) as disclosure of the information would not be reasonably likely to impair the ability of a public authority or Minister to obtain similar information in the future: s39(1)(b). However,  much of the information was found to be exempt under s37(1) (Information relating to business affairs of third party) and, whilst it was contrary to the public interest to release raw monitoring data,  the Ombudsman determined that it was not contrary to release all other information.

Environment Tasmania and Environment Protection Agency (PDF, 1.6 MB)

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (June 2017)

The applicant sought information about a for-profit residential care provider, including payments made to it by the Department. On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, s36 and s39 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information. Despite the claims of the Department, no information was found to be exempt under s37. However, some information was to be disclosed, including payments made by the Department to the provider, subject to redaction of identifying personal information, as well as factual information contained in information which might otherwise be exempt under s27(1) or s35(1) of the Act.  The Department submitted that certain information could not be disclosed by virtue of either s16, s103 or s111A of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 Act but the Ombudsman was not generally satisfied of this, considering that the Department was taking too broad a view of the purpose of that Act, although some information was found to be subject to s111A and was not to be disclosed.

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 1.8 MB)

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (April 2017)

Mr Atkin (a journalist with the ABC) requested information in relation to a fish mortality event in Macquarie Harbour that occurred between 1 December 2014 and 28 February 2015.  Some laboratory report information as to the probable cause of the fish mortality event was released by the Department on internal review. The Ombudsman determined that information relating to the reporting of the fish mortality event by the relevant enterprise to the Department was exempt under s37 of the Right to Information Act 2009 but that, in terms of s33, it was not contrary to the public interest to disclose this.  By contrast, whilst the remaining laboratory report information was exempt under s39, it was contrary to the public interest to disclose any further information from this report.

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (PDF, 974.8 KB)

Richard Webb and DPIPWE (January 2020)

Mr Webb sought information from the Department in relation to the development proposal on Halls Island, Lake Malbena. The request sought a range of information that primarily included some leases for Halls Island and some documents to the relevant Minister.

One of the core parts of this review was whether or not the two leases sought for Halls Island was information obtained in confidence as claimed by the Department. The Ombudsman overturned this in full on the basis the Department's own lease documents could not constitute information obtained in confidence that, if released, would impair its ability to obtain similar information in the future.

Richard Webb and DPIPWE (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Nick McKim and DPIPWE (December 2019)

In June 2014, the Tasmanian Government called for expressions of interest for developments in Tasmanian national parks. Senator McKim requested the proposed locations these developments in November 2014. The Department claimed this information was exempt as it was obtained in confidence and that it was not in the public interest to release it to the public. The Ombudsman overturned this decision and the list was released to Senator McKim.

Nick McKim and DPIPWE  (PDF, 6.0 MB)

Mandy Squires and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (March 2019)

Ms Squires (a journalist with NewsCorp) sought information from the Department about the death of 16 ponies on the Spirit of Tasmania. This was a serious incident and sparked a lot of interest among the media and the public. This is an interesting matter in that a strong public interest does not necessarily guarantee release of information in the right circumstances. The Department relied on exemptions due to enforcement of the law, third party business information, and information obtained in confidence. The decision only upholds those exemptions relating to the enforcement of the law and overturns the others.

Mandy Squires and DPIPWE (PDF, 2.2 MB)

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (June 2017)

The applicant sought information about a for-profit residential care provider, including payments made to it by the Department. On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, s36 and s39 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information. Despite the claims of the Department, no information was found to be exempt under s37. However, some information was to be disclosed, including payments made by the Department to the provider, subject to redaction of identifying personal information, as well as factual information contained in information which might otherwise be exempt under s27(1) or s35(1) of the Act.  The Department submitted that certain information could not be disclosed by virtue of either s16, s103 or s111A of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 Act but the Ombudsman was not generally satisfied of this, considering that the Department was taking too broad a view of the purpose of that Act, although some information was found to be subject to s111A and was not to be disclosed.

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 1.8 MB)

Environment Tasmania and Environment Protection Agency (June 2017)

Environment Tasmania requested information about Huon Aquaculture’s Lonnavale Hatchery and its effect on the Russell River. Some information was released but the EPA considered that all other information was exempt under s39(1)  of the Right to Information Act 2009 (Information obtained in confidence) in the first instance because it had been voluntarily provided by Huon.  On review the Ombudsman determined that none of the remaining information was exempt under s39(1) as disclosure of the information would not be reasonably likely to impair the ability of a public authority or Minister to obtain similar information in the future: s39(1)(b). However,  much of the information was found to be exempt under s37(1) (Information relating to business affairs of third party) and, whilst it was contrary to the public interest to release raw monitoring data,  the Ombudsman determined that it was not contrary to release all other information.

Environment Tasmania and Environment Protection Agency (PDF, 1.6 MB)

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (April 2017)

Mr Atkin (a journalist with the ABC) requested information in relation to a fish mortality event in Macquarie Harbour that occurred between 1 December 2014 and 28 February 2015.  Some laboratory report information as to the probable cause of the fish mortality event was released by the Department on internal review. The Ombudsman determined that information relating to the reporting of the fish mortality event by the relevant enterprise to the Department was exempt under s37 of the Right to Information Act 2009 but that, in terms of s33, it was not contrary to the public interest to disclose this.  By contrast, whilst the remaining laboratory report information was exempt under s39, it was contrary to the public interest to disclose any further information from this report.

Michael Atkin and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water, and the Environment (PDF, 974.8 KB)

Cassy O’Connor and Minister for Parks, Environment, and Heritage (April 2016)

The issue for determination was whether a decision made by the delegate of a Minister is subject to internal review under the Right to Information Act 2009 and whether the Ombudsman has jurisdiction under the Act to conduct an external review of such a decision. The review considered Sections 43, 44 and 45 of the Act and found that there was no right to internal review of such a decision and therefore no jurisdiction to accept an application for external review.

Cassy O’Connor and Minister for Parks, Environment, and Heritage (PDF, 171.9 KB)

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (June 2017)

The applicant sought information about a for-profit residential care provider, including payments made to it by the Department. On review the Ombudsman affirmed that much of the information was exempt under s27, s35, s36 and s39 of the Right to Information Act 2009 and that it was contrary to the public interest to disclose this information. Despite the claims of the Department, no information was found to be exempt under s37. However, some information was to be disclosed, including payments made by the Department to the provider, subject to redaction of identifying personal information, as well as factual information contained in information which might otherwise be exempt under s27(1) or s35(1) of the Act.  The Department submitted that certain information could not be disclosed by virtue of either s16, s103 or s111A of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 Act but the Ombudsman was not generally satisfied of this, considering that the Department was taking too broad a view of the purpose of that Act, although some information was found to be subject to s111A and was not to be disclosed.

Richard Baines and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 1.8 MB)

A and Tasmania Police (March 2017)

The information at issue was whether the will of the applicant’s late parent should be disclosed to them. This decision discusses the requirements of s36 (personal information of a person) of the Right to Information Act 2009 and the intersection it has with the Wills Act 2008. As these Acts appear at face value to contradict each other, the issue of implied repeal by later statute is also considered.

A and Tasmania Police (PDF, 97.5 KB)

Patrick Billings and Department of Health and Human Services (December 2016)

Mr Billings (a journalist on ‘The Mercury’ newspaper) requested CCTV footage of an event at Ashley Youth Detention Centre in July 2016.  The Ombudsman determined that the footage should not be released, as various exemption grounds under s30(1) of the Right to Information Act 2009 were satisfied.  Under the Act, s30 exemptions are not subject to the public interest test at s33.

Patrick Billings and Department of Health and Human Services (PDF, 448.4 KB)