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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 572

Senator SPINDLER (10.17 a.m.) —I do not think the question as to whether this legislation is being properly implemented should depend on consultation with one senator, be it myself or somebody else, at a later stage. If the minister is concerned about all these things—if, as he says, various officers will be drawn into the consultation and if, as the Minister for Justice (Mr Kerr) claims in his letter to the Privacy Commissioner, in the case of doubt the officer will make a decision in favour of consultation—why is this not all in the bill? Why did the government not clearly specify that these matters must be taken into account—that if there is a doubt, the decision will be in favour of consultation?

  If we are dealing with information on the public record and if information is in the context of a prison record or a social security record, why does the government not say in the bill that this will not be treated as public information? Why is it not in the bill? Why is the government asking us to pass a piece of legislation here today that the government will then rush around and fix up? The government will issue memoranda; it will issue guidelines; it will ensure that officers consult. Why does the government not say so in the bill?