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Tuesday, 29 August 2000
Page: 19593

Mr McClelland asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 9 May 2000:

Do the provisions of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill apply to the activities of State-owned corporations listed in Schedule 5 to the State Owned Corporations Act 1989 (NSW) such as Energy Australia, the New South Wales Lotteries Corporation and Sydney Water Corporation; if, so, which provisions; if not, is there anything preventing State-owned corporations such as these from making improper use of Australians' personal information.

Mr Williams (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000 will apply to `organisations' as defined in the Bill. State or Territory authorities are generally excluded from the definition. Therefore, the State-owned corporations listed in Schedule 5 to the State Owned Corporations Act 1989 (NSW) would not be covered by the legislation. The Government decided that State and Territory government business enterprises should not be covered by the Commonwealth's legislation unless they were corporations incorporated under the Corporations Law. This issue was the subject of consultation with State and Territory Attorneys-General.

There are provisions in the Bill to enable a State or Territory Government to have a Corporations Law corporation `opted-out' of coverage by the legislation where it performs substantially public sector activities. Similarly, there is provision for a State or Territory Government to seek to have one or more of its instrumentalities `opted-in' to the Commonwealth's legislation if its functions are more of a private sector nature. There is a general regulation-making power for these purposes.

The issue of which standards for the protection of personal information should apply to NSW State-owned corporations - those in the Commonwealth or NSW privacy schemes - is a matter for the NSW Government to determine.