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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rudra Sharma and DPIPWE (January 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.