QCAT's decision in City North Infrastructure Pty Ltd v
Information Commissioner  QCATA 60 clarifies that the
Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI
Act) does not apply to corporate Special Purpose Vehicles
established by the State Government under the Corporations Act 2001
What is a public authority to which the Right to
Information Act applies?
An entity can be subject to the RTI Act if it is a "public
authority" as defined under the RTI Act, which has three
established by government
under an Act
for a public purpose.
City North Infrastructure Pty Ltd (CNI) is a
Special Purpose Vehicle established by the Queensland Government to
assist in the delivery of certain infrastructure projects. Before a
State Government Department can form a company it must obtain the
Treasurer's approval (under the Financial Accountability
It was common ground that CNI was established by the State
Government for a public purpose, and that the relevant
"Act" would have to be an Act of the Queensland
Parliament. The issue was whether CNI had been established under a
"Established under an Act" - QCAT adopts a
Deputy President Kingham adopted a narrow interpretation. She
said that there must be a sufficient connection between an action
taken under an Act and the legal creation of the entity, so that it
can be said that the entity was established under the Act.
In this case, although the Treasurer's approval under the
State Act was a pre-condition for the establishment of CNI, this
was not enough. CNI was brought into existence under the
Corporations Act, a Commonwealth Act and therefore was not a
What does this mean for Queensland government
For Special Purpose Vehicles established solely under the
Corporations Act, this decision is a useful clarification of their
responsibilities. There had been some uncertainty about the scope
of the RTI Act in these circumstances.
As the first decision made by QCAT in relation to the RTI Act,
this case is also a useful indication of how QCAT will approach its
task. Deputy President Kingham noted that:
the RTI Act had specific definitions that had to be carefully
considered and applied;
the broad statutory objects clause under the RTI Act, of
itself, did not mean that an applicant could gain access to all
documents of bodies connected with government unless they were
expressly excluded from the operation of the RTI Act; and
the task is to consider the meaning of the specific terms and
definitions as set out in the Act.
As the RTI Act has introduced significant changes affecting all
Queensland agencies, we will continue to monitor its consideration
by the Information Commissioner, QCAT and the Courts.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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