Mr X and Defence Forces

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date20 Aug 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the decision of the Defence Forces.
RespondentDefence Forces
Record NumberOIC-105612-N4W3M4
Whether the Defence Forces was justified in refusing to provide the applicant with a statement of reasons as to why he was recommended for a certain specified course but not another specified course on the ground that no such refusal occurred, whether it was justified in redacting certain information from the records released under section 37(1), and (iii) whether it was justified in refusing access to any other relevant records under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act

20 August 2021

Background

The applicant is a member of the Defence Forces. In a request dated 7 July 2020, he sought

i. “… the reasons and decisions why I was recommended for the Sheet Metal Structural Repair Course but not the AW139 Maintenance Course (AW139) …” and

ii. “… any information/emails or handwritten notes relating to me on this”.

The Defence Forces refused the request under section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act on the ground that no relevant records could be found. In essence, its position was that it had no record of the applicant having applied for the AW139 maintenance course. The applicant subsequently sought a review by this Office of the decision taken by the Defence Forces on his request. In my decision of 7 December 2020 in cases OIC-98411 and OIC-98243, I found that while the Defence Forces had taken all reasonable steps to locate records relating to the AW139 maintenance course and that no such records could be found, it had failed to search for records relating to the sheet metal structural repair course that I accepted to be captured by the request. I also found that the Defence Forces had failed to properly consider the application for a statement of reasons. I annulled the decision of the Defence Forces and remitted the matter to it for consideration afresh.

On 15 February 2021, the Defence Forces issued a fresh decision on the request. It released a number of records it deemed relevant to the request including two records relating to the structural repair course, with the redaction of a small amount of information from three records on the ground that the redacted information comprised personal information relating to third parties. In relation to the statement of reasons sought, it said that as no record of an application for the AW139 Maintenance Course could be located it was not possible to provide a statement of reasons.

On 23 February 2021, the applicant sought an internal review of that decision. On 12 March 2021, the Defence Forces issued its internal review...

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