Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
Compiled by Graham Greenleaf
The Federal Government has responded to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Advisory Report (see (2000) 7(1) PLPR 1) on the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000 by proposing very few and mainly inconsequential amendments. Attorney General Williams has tabled (8 September 2000) amendments, the more significant of which are:
NZ Privacy Commissioner Bruce Slane, in a submission to the NZ Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee ‘Inquiry Into New Zealand’s Economic and Trade Relationship with Australia’, has criticised Australia’s proposed private sector privacy law as failing to come up to OECD standards, and as continuing Australia’s lax privacy standards as an impediment to trans-Tasman trade and co-operation. Slane comments:
The Australian Government is now acting in respect of the private sector. Unfortunately, the Bill that presently is before the Australian Parliament is highly unsatisfactory as a data protection measure given the inclusion of several large exemptions, most critically a ‘small business’ exemption — which cynically excludes business with a turnover of up to $3 million — and an employee records exemption. There is no justification for either exemption in the OECD Guidelines. Important categories of personal information transferred from New Zealand to Australia will be without legal protection where such exemptions apply.
He argues that harmonisation of regional privacy laws ‘ought to be a consideration in terms of our foreign affairs and trading relationship with Australia and other regional partners’.
A version of the Privacy Act 1988, unofficially consolidated to include the Government’s proposed Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000, is available from Sydney law firm Blakes at <http://www.bdw.com.au/frameit.asp?page=/news/news-63.asp?>.