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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 1975

Senator MISSEN —My question, which is to the Attorney-General, relates to the guidelines on the protection of privacy and trans-border flow of personal data that were adopted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and became applicable on 23 September 1980. Does the Attorney-General agree that the guidelines, which were developed by a group of government experts under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Michael Kirby, the then Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission, would help harmonise national privacy legislation and, while upholding such human rights, would at the same time prevent interruptions in international flows of data? If so, I ask the Attorney: Firstly, why has the Australian Government so far abstained from adopting the guidelines? Secondly, are we among the very few nations that developed the guidelines that have so far failed to ratify them? Thirdly, will consideration be given by the Government to ratifying the guidelines at an early date?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am perfectly prepared to concede that anything with which Mr Justice Kirby has been associated is likely to be a good thing, but beyond that I am not in a position to give any detailed response to Senator Missen on the terms of his question. I will endeavour to do so as soon as possible.