Prime Ministers Office

John Edwards writes on Fairfax’s Privacy whinge

Fairfax has rushed off to the Privacy Commissioner. Think for a minute how absolutely hilarious it is for a media organisation that plies its trade rummaging in the privacy of other people to now rush off to the Privacy Commissioner because someone allegedly abused their privacy. My sides are hurting from laughing at the irony of it all.

However what are their and Peter Dunne’s legal chances with all of this?

John Edwards suggests not much chance at all.

Without any power to compel the production of information, David Henry needed to rely on the cooperation of other parties. ?In order to cooperate in the absence of any legal obligation to disclose, Ministers, Parliamentary Service and others needed some authority to hand over information to the inquiry.

If an agency that is subject to the Privacy Act voluntarily hands over personal information, they need to be satisfied that doing so is consistent with the purposes of collection, is authorised by the individual concerned, or is necessary for the maintenance of the law (or one or two other exceptions).

The Parliamentary Service held copies of emails, and of security card records of both Peter Dunne and Andrea Vance. All of that is personal information. But the Privacy Act does not apply to the Parliamentary Service (except in a limited sense, relating ?personal information about employees). Therefore, however you feel about what they should have done, giving all the information to the inquiry, even emails, could not be a breach of the Privacy Act, so no remedy for Dunne/Vance. There might be ?a Privileges Committee inquiry, changes to procedures, or even to Standing Orders, but in respect of the Parliamentary Service, no one gets to claim a cent. ? Read more »

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