On Thursday 4 June 2009 I received a response from the City of Yarra about my food hygiene FOI. They have given me a spreadsheet of inspection data but have removed all of the business names, making it of marginal value or interest. In their letter they claim that privacy considerations prevent them from releasing the names:
personal information relating to Business Names and Addresses has been deleted from the attached information. This has been done pursuant to sections 25 and 33(1) of the Act which pertain to personal privacy and the deletion of personal information from otherwise exempt documents.
I think privacy applies to people, not to the trading names of food service businesses. I am not interested in the names of the owners or licensees. I only want the trading names of the businesses so people can identify them on the street. Privacy is no excuse for not publishing this information in NSW, and the argument holds no validity here.
They again claim that releasing further information is an unreasonable burden on the council:
Further information is considered exempt under the Act pursuant to substantially and unreasonably diverting Council resources from its other operations, and lack of specificity…
Given that they have just demonstrated that they have the data in electronic form, their claim that collating it is too much work is rubbish. So too is their claim that my application lacked specificity. They answered it precisely (apart from deleting the business names) so they have acknowledged that they know exactly what I want. Their argument here is nonsensical and pathetic.
I have immediately appealed, so I am at stage 3 of the 6 stage process I outlined in my original post. I’m getting closer to being able to apply to the Ombudsman to force the disclosure of this information.