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Privacy vs public interest



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MEDIA STATEMENT Philip Ruddock MP Federal Member for Dundas Electorate Parliament House

Shadow Minister for Immigration Tel: (02) 858 1011 Tel: (06) 277 4343

and Ethnic Affairs Fax: (02) 804 6739 Fax: (06) 277 2062

PRIVACY VS PUBLIC INTEREST

"There ought to be a total review of the Privacy Act and its application to immigration decisions particularly when public interest is involved", the Shadow Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Philip Ruddock said today.

There is an excessive degree of secrecy surrounding the reasons why particular decisions have been taken in many immigration cases. Information about how Government polity has been applied, currently cannot be obtained, due to Privacy Act restrictions.

The Opposition believes a thorough review of the Privacy Act is urgently required.

A case in point is th at of Mr Bray, an English pensioner who recently arrived in Sydney for Christmas with his daughter, but was immediately detained by immigration officers because his multiple entry visa was not valid.

Travellers who arrive in Australia with incorrect or insufficient documentation for entry are able to lodge a supplementary application at the airport with immigration officers. Clearly in Mr Bray's case the Department did not accept such an

application and he was required to return to the UK the following day.

Possibly there were mitigating circumstances regarding Mr Bray's application. However due to the Privacy Act the public will never know the full story.

The rigidity of the Privacy Act does not always serve the best public interest. The Government should acknowledge this flaw and take the positive step of initiating a review to establish a more flexible application of the Act.

Further information: Philip Ruddock MP (02) 630 4575 ah or pager: (02) 925 3911 #25589

23 December 1992

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH