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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 582

Senator BOLKUS (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.11 a.m.) —I can only say to Senator Spindler that the official line is that the government finds it interesting and is prepared to have it looked at in the way that I mentioned in my response. I must say, from my own personal perspective, that I do not find it interesting. That sort of decision is one to be made by government.

Senator Harradine —I want to hear a response from the minister to my question.

Senator BOLKUS —I am sorry, I meant to give Senator Harradine that answer. My advice is that, in the normal administration of a government department or a GBE, we have actually placed obligations on them to comply with the Privacy Act and with the relevant legislation. Those departments and GBEs have an obligation to do so. In carrying out that obligation, they are encouraged to work through the Attorney-General's Department to get advice from the Privacy Commissioner as to how they meet, or do not meet, their obligations under such legislation. I am told that is a normal occurrence. That encouragement takes place quite often. That is one aspect of advice.

  The other aspect, of course, is when government departments are preparing legislation, such as legislation that has to get cabinet endorsement. The Privacy Commissioner and HREOC have a role in giving advice on the preparation of such proposals through the cabinet process.