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Monday, 27 September 1993
Page: 1238

(Question No. 529)

Senator Bell asked the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations, upon notice, on 25 August 1993:

  (1) Has the Comcare Commission approved the surveillance policies of Australia Post and the Australian and Overseas Telecommunications Corporation (AOTC); if so, when; and what are those policies.

  (2) Do AOTC and Australia Post comply with these policies.

  (3) What is the number of reviewable decisions reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for both Australia Post and the AOTC in the period to 30 June 1993.

  (4) How many of these decisions were affirmed by the AAT for Australia Post and AOTC.

  (5) Where the AAT decision supports the employee, what is the obligation on the self-administering authority to implement the decision.

  (6) When will the performance reports as described by the Notice of Determination of Conditions of Licence which was published in Gazette No. GN46 of 18 November 1992, for Australia Post and AOTC for the year ending 30 June 1993, be published.

Senator McMullan —The Minister for Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) Yes, on 14 April 1993. Australia Post's policy complies with the Privacy Commissioner's Covert Surveillance Guidelines. While Telstra (formerly AOTC) is not bound by the terms of the Privacy Act 1988, its policy also follows the Privacy Commissioner's guidelines. A copy of the policy for each corporation has been provided to Senator Bell.

  (2) As a condition of licence, Australia Post and Telstra have been required to satisfy the Commission that they can comply with the Commission-approved surveillance policies. Comcare has commenced a field evaluation program which, among other matters, will evaluate compliance with the approved surveillance policy. At this early stage of the program there is no evidence of non-compliance with the policy.

  (3) In the year ended 30 June 1993 the AAT reviewed 61 reviewable decisions made by Australia Post and 101 made by Telstra.

  (4) The AAT affirmed 37 or 61% of decisions made by Australia Post and 57 or 56% of decisions made by Telstra.

  (5) If the AAT determines a matter in favour of an employee, the AAT may either vary or set aside the decision under review. If the determination is to set aside the decision under review, the AAT may make a decision in substitution for the original decision which the licensed authority must comply with. Alternatively, the AAT may remit the matter to the licensed authority for reconsideration, in which case the licensed authority must take into account and give effect to any directions given by the AAT.

  (6) Both Australia Post and Telstra have provided performance reports as required. Copies of the reports have been provided to Senator Bell.