Date: 15 February 2022
Tribunal: Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal
Tribunal Member: Senior Member Traves
Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) Sections: ss 25, 48
Rights Considered: Right to privacy and reputation
Other Legislation: Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) s 66
Keywords: Privacy and Confidentiality; Public Law Considerations: Interpretation; Tenancy and Social Housing

This case concerned an application for a non-publication order relating to medical evidence that the applicant had filed in relation to an application he was pursuing under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld). In refusing the non-publication order, the Tribunal considered that the production of the document was in the interests of justice and that the applicant’s right to privacy had not been unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with.

The applicant alleged that he had been subject to indirect discrimination on the basis of his impairment in relation to residential accommodation following the floods in early February 2019: at [2]. The applicant had filed an application for a further extension of time with supporting letters from his doctor and from North and West Remote Health: at [4]-[7]. The Tribunal directed the applicant to give a copy of this application, including the attached supporting medical evidence, to the respondents so that they could file submissions: at [8]. The applicant then applied for a non-publication order in relation to the letter from North and West Remote Health, requesting that it not be shared with the respondents or more widely: at [9]-[10].

In making his application for a non-publication order, the applicant referred to the right to privacy and reputation under section 25 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), asserting that the publication of his medical evidence would have ‘detrimental health outcomes’ and that his human rights would be ‘alienated’: at [10]. He also contended that it was neither in the public nor the respondent’s interests to have access to his medical information: at [10].

The Tribunal recognised that, pursuant to section 48 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), it was obligated to interpret section 66 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) consistently with human rights and ‘to the extent possible in a manner compatible with human rights’: at [13] and [20]. The Tribunal considered a previous High Court decision of Momcilovic v The Queen [2011] HCA 34 that held statutes must be read against the background of human rights: at [19]. Therefore, the Tribunal held that it must take the applicant’s human rights into account in applying the interests of justice to its decision regarding the making of the non-publication order: at [21].

The relevant right under the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) was the right to privacy and reputation (section 25), which protected people from unlawful or arbitrary interference with their ‘personal and social individuality and identity’: at [15]. The Tribunal applied the interpretation of ‘arbitrary interference’ provided by Bell J in PJB v Melbourne Health (2011) 39 VR 373, which included interferences that were ‘capricious, unpredictable or unjust’ and extended to interferences that were disproportionate to a legitimate aim sought: at [17].

The medical evidence in question was submitted to the Tribunal in support of the applicant’s application for a further extension of time: at [22]. The Tribunal recognised that it was standard practice for documents filed with the Tribunal to be shared with the other side for reasons of procedural fairness and was fundamental to the proper administration of justice: at [22]. Due to the importance of open and transparent proceedings, the request that the medical evidence be produced to the other side was not an arbitrary interference with the applicant’s privacy: at [23]-[24].

The Tribunal refused the application for the non-publication order: at [24].

Visit the judgment: Angelopoulos v Silkwire Pty Ltd & Anor [2022] QCAT 52