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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 4310

Senator SHERRY (Assistant Treasurer) (1:00 PM) —I thank Senator Fierravanti-Wells for her contribution to the debate on the Migration Amendment (Protection of Identifying Information) Bill 2009. I do not agree with the observations and interpretation she advanced; nevertheless, she was speaking in support of the bill.

The bill provides the appropriate framework for handling personal identifiers in the future. The Migration Legislation Amendment (Information and Other Measures) Act 2007 made an amendment to the definition of ‘identifying information’ in paragraph 336A(a) to provide that it is any personal identifier provided under section 40, 46, 166, 170, 175, 188, 192 or 261AA of the act. However, these amendments to the definition in 2007 made these provisions more limited than the original policy intention.

Recent legal advice suggests that personal identifiers belonging to the department’s clients that are not currently protected by part 4A include those collected from other agencies, domestic or international; unsolicited external sources; and from law enforcement agencies often shared with the department as part of an investigation. In relation to these personal identifiers DIAC has been adhering to part 4A of the Migration Act and the Privacy Act where applicable, so there is no question of either act being breached. In order to ensure that the rights and privacy of persons whose personal identifiers are provided by international and external sources are protected under the act and to ensure our Australian and international partners that the data they will provide will be given this protection this bill will subject all personal identifiers collected by DIAC for immigration purposes to the same statutory regime, that being part 4A of the act. I commend the bill to the chamber.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.