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Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Page: 9229


Senator PATRICK (South Australia) (15:32): I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010 (AIC Act) establishes three independent statutory office holders:

(A) the Information Commissioner,

(B) the Freedom of Information (FOI) Commissioner, and

(C) the Privacy Commissioner,

(ii) paragraphs 11(5) (a) and (b) and paragraphs 12(5) (a) and (b) of the AIC Act describe the independence of each Commissioner,

(iii) in the six months following the Royal Assent to the AIC Act, three commissioners were appointed to the three office holder's positions,

(iv) since the unsuccessful attempt by the Abbott Government to abolish the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, two commissioners have left office and have not been replaced,

(v) currently Mr Timothy Pilgrim fills the statutory position of the Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, and the position of FOI Commissioner is vacant on account of Mr Pilgrim not holding the legal qualifications required in section 14 of the AIC Act, and

(vi) the AIC Act requires the appointment of three independent statutory office holders and the Government is constitutionally bound to maintain and execute the laws of the land and uphold the will of the Parliament; and

(b) calls on the Government to immediately commence the process of appointing an independent Privacy Commissioner and an independent FOI Commissioner, in accordance with the AIC Act.

Notice given 28 November 2017

I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator PATRICK: It is clear from the law reports that served as the genesis to the Australian Information Commissioner Act, the explanatory memorandum, the minister's second reading speech and the act itself that there are supposed to be three independent commissioners in the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. It is the will of the parliament. The Constitution requires the government to give effect to the laws of the land. It's not for the government to choose which laws it will and will not give effect to.