Hon Judi Moylan

Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012

Mrs MOYLAN (Pearce) (12:03): by leave—As Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs I also rise to speak on the advisory report. The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 was developed in response to the Australian Law Reform Commission 2008 report into Australia's privacy laws, which I understand have not been updated for some 20 years. The ALRC made 295 recommendations to the government, which announced that it would respond in two stages. This bill addresses the first 197 of those recommendations and it is the first stage in an ongoing process.

The matters dealt with in this bill are extremely complex and will impact on individuals and corporations, as privacy laws govern many facets of Australian life. Additional complexities arise for the many organisations that now do business on a global scale where other countries do not have such robust privacy laws in place. The committee recognises that there remain a number of outstanding concerns raised by both industry and consumers. There is always a tension between balancing the requirements of business for streamlined processes and the rights of consumers to protection. In recognition of the matters raised in the 38 submissions received and the representations of those who appeared before the committee, the committee has recommended the passage of the bill through this House, as the member for Moreton has just said, but with some conditions attached.

Recommendation 2 calls on the Attorney-General to conduct a review of this legislation 12 months after the commencement date, so as to address a number of issues. I would just like to outline these issues. They are: the defence of contravention of APP8; the conflicting overseas laws; direct marketing and opt-out provisions; de-identified data provisions; the system regulating/preventing credit reporting information overseas—that is, the Australian link requirement; and the effect of the repayment history provisions on addresses stored on file.

Given the complexities in the legislation, the committee further recommends that the Attorney-General provides educational material and that it is to be made available before the commencement of these provisions. Many of the submissions the committee received outlined the matter of the complexities in the legislation and how confusing the legislation is to administer. There is little point in having legislation passed through this House that no-one understands and that is difficult to implement, so we believe as a committee that it is important that the Attorney-General's Department make information available to assist with the transition to the new measures.

This legislation will amend the existing Privacy Act 1988, creating the Australian Privacy Principles, and these which will replace the National Privacy Principles and the Information Privacy Principles that currently apply to both the private and the public sectors. These are a set of unified principles designed to give clarity and consistency to the laws and more comprehensive privacy protection.

The bill also introduces an expansive credit-reporting system and clarifies the powers of the Privacy Commissioner to deal with complaints, conduct investigations, make use of external dispute resolution services and promote compliance.

I take this opportunity to thank the chair and members of the committee for their contribution to this work and the committee secretariat for managing a very large workload with great skill and competence.

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