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Privacy Law and Policy Reporter

Privacy Law and Policy Reporter (PLPR)
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Greenleaf, Graham --- "Private parts" [1997] PrivLawPRpr 18; (1997) 3(10) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 200

Private parts

compiled by Graham Greenleaf


Queensland has joined Victoria and NSW in announcing its intention to legislate to protect privacy this year, and to establish an office of Privacy Commissioner. Queensland Attorney-General, Denver Beanland, announced the new policy in January and indicated that the legislation would cover both the public and private sectors. Since then officers of his Department have been very active in preparing a draft Bill. Meanwhile, the question of how to develop a consistent national approach, given the intention of both the Commonwealth and various states to legislate, has been placed on the agenda of the March meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG).


Bruce Bargon, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Credit Reference Association of Australia, has responded to the editorial comments in (1997) 3 PLPR 162 concerning CRAA's submission to the Attorney-General, as follows:

CRAA was very pleased to agree to your request that we provide PLPR with a copy of our submission. We believe it is important there be open and informed debate on the proposed extension of the Privacy Act to the private sector. As you observed CRAA welcomes the Government's initiatives in committing to a co-regulatory approach. What we have asked for, on behalf of our members, is that co-regulation also be extended to credit reporting. This is not the case at present. Despite the consultative nature of the Credit Reporting Code, Pt IIIA is not co-regulation. The Code merely makes possible what would otherwise be unworkable.

I believe you are mistaken in your belief that the Draft Code of Practice suggested by CRAA would lead to changes which would be `an unmitigated disaster for privacy protection'. The Draft Code (which is a discussion document) is intended to operate in an environment of universal national privacy legislation. The Code would not therefore stand alone, but would be one element of a national privacy regime.

CRAA has already voluntarily extended the access and correction aspects of the Privacy Act to those of its activities which are beyond the scope of the Act, covering public register information (such as debt judgments and bankruptcy) and commercial credit files.

Many sectoral interests will be represented in the coming debate. CRAA has chosen a forthright approach to what it believes to be a desirable balance of interests so far as credit risk information is concerned. In asking for the repeal of Pt IIIA, we are not seeking to wind back the clock. CRAA accepts the need for privacy principles to apply to the collection and use of the information we are entrusted with. We firmly believe that the application of those privacy principles should be in the form of national uniform legislation.

CRAA's proposed Code deserves careful analysis, which it has not yet received. It is possible to remove the over-technical Pt IIIA but to still preserve its objectives (as I have argued at 3 PLPR 175). IIIA but to still preserve its objectives (as I have argued at 3 PLPR 175). However, the question at the end of the day will remain `does the law still prohibit positive reporting, and the use of credit information for non-credit purposes?' If the answer is `no' the clock has been wound back to the pre-1990 position. Fortunately, CRAA says that is not what it seeks.

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