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STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS
23/02/2009
ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S PORTFOLIO
Australian Law Reform Commission

CHAIR —I welcome Professor David Weisbrot to the hearing this afternoon. Before we begin, would you like to make an opening statement?

Prof. Weisbrot —No, I do not have anything beyond the submission that we made.

CHAIR —Thank you. We will go to questions.

Senator BRANDIS —What inquiries does the ALRC have on the go at the moment?

Prof. Weisbrot —We are in the midst of a review of federal secrecy laws, and just a few weeks ago we commenced a new review of the Royal Commissions Act.

Senator BRANDIS —Were these self-generated references or references from government?

Prof. Weisbrot —We do not do self-generated references. Under the ALRC Act we operate only on written terms of reference from the Attorney-General.

Senator BRANDIS —So these are both references from the Attorney General?

Prof. Weisbrot —That is right.

Senator BRANDIS —Are they currently the only two?

Prof. Weisbrot —For some years now we have been doing two references at a time.

Senator BRANDIS —Let me take you back to the privacy report that you delivered last year. Where is that at in terms of the government’s response?

Prof. Weisbrot —You may remember that in launching the report Senator Faulkner said that the government had intended to divide the implementation up into several tranches and that in the first tranche, which would occur during this year, the work would be primarily on the core aspects of the Privacy Act, such as the privacy principles and the things that were integral to that. As far as I am aware, that is progressing well. But those questions would be better for PM&C for details.

Senator BRANDIS —Is that progressing within the department, is it?

Prof. Weisbrot —As far as I understand.

Senator BRANDIS —Mr Wilkins might know the answer to that.

Mr Wilkins —This is not an issue for the Attorney-General’s Department; it is for PM&C.

Senator BRANDIS —I will ask in those estimates. Thank you.

Senator BARNETT —When was the report?

Prof. Weisbrot —The report was launched in August last year.

Senator BRANDIS —Is it the intention of the ALRC—and I am not for a moment suggesting that it should be; I just wondered—to make a submission to or in any other way participate in the deliberations of the National Human Rights Consultation?

Prof. Weisbrot —No, I do not believe so. Our submissions policy is that we would do that only where it relates to current or previous reference work, and as we have not done work in that area I do not think it would be appropriate.

Senator BARNETT —I have a question that relates to the inquiry established to look into alternative methods of executive inquiry other than the royal commission, which you just touched on. How long will that take and when will that report.

Prof. Weisbrot —We are due to report on 30 October this year, and we will.

CHAIR —Thank you.

 [12.23 pm]