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New privacy rights

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11 September 1991


NEW PRIVACY RIGHTS L------ — ---- -----

From 24 September Australian consumers will be guaranteed access free of charge to any credit information held on them by a credit reporting agency.

And from the same date the credit reporting industry will be under an obligation to ensure that all records it holds are accurate and up to date.

These new rights are contained in amendments to the Privacy Act, and a new Code of Conduct made under that Act issued by the Privacy Commissioner, Mr Kevin O'Connor.

The Federal Minister for Justice and Consumer Affairs, Senator Michael Tate, today urged consumers to take full advantage of these new rights.

"For the first time, in a society increasingly dominated by credit, Australian citizens will enjoy the basic right to have access to the credit information which is being held about them.

"And when those records are inaccurate or out of date the credit reporting agency will be required to correct them" Senator Tate said.

He said other more detailed regulatory elements of the privacy package would now not apply until February 24 next year.

"The Government has accepted that another five months is necessary in order to allow the credit industry to absorb the full meaning of the most recent changes to the law and to make necessary changes to systems and other technology.

"Credit providers and credit reporting agencies will therefore not be regarded as being in breach of the regulatory elements of the new law before 24 February next year.

"But the industry has advised that until that time it will strive to honour the spirit of the legislation".

Senator Tate commended the Credit Reference Association of Austraia and its Chief Executive Mr Bruce Bargon, for their co­ operative approach in ensuring that consumers will have ready access to these important personal records without the need to pay any fee or charge.

"Ordinary Australians should seize this opportunity to ensure that credit records which are held by credit agencies and credit providers do present an accurate picture" he said.

For information contact Adrian Wild or Shaun Gath on 06/2777260