Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 March 2018) . . Page.. 765 ..
I was satisfied with removing the uncommenced provisions from the act. I thought it made sense in the context of this broader government review of civil surveillance. That work is very important in continuing to look at this area of civil surveillance, reviewing the work that was started and making sure that we are keeping pace with technological developments and the new ways in which we are seeing people abuse the opportunities presented by those technologies. We need to ensure that the community’s expectations about privacy and protection from undue surveillance are met and that we have the legislative provisions in the ACT to keep pace with a changing world. Having made those few remarks, the Greens are pleased to support this bill today.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (5.07): I will not go through the provisions of the bill again, as they were covered in my presentation speech, by Minister Rattenbury and, to some extent, by Mr Wall and Miss Burch. I will, however, respond to some of the comments that Mr Wall and Miss Burch have made in this debate and, in doing so, indicate that the government will not be supporting Miss Burch’s amendment when the time comes.
I will start with Mr Wall’s comments. As Mr Wall noted, the Workplace Privacy Amendment Bill 2016 was debated and amended in this place in 2016. At that time one of the amendments made was to defer commencement of the provisions related to the surveillance of workers outside the workplace, in recognition that further work was required. This was in fact a decision of the Assembly. Mr Wall has talked about our trying to override, in this bill, decisions of the Assembly which previously passed. Well, the Assembly that previously passed this bill passed an amendment to defer the commencement of these provisions in recognition that further work was required.
Mr Wall also stated that it was not explained in the directorate’s briefing why this deferral had taken place or, indeed, why we were now proposing to omit these clauses and not have them commence as scheduled in April. Mr Wall did not actually attend the briefing, and I am advised that his staff did not specifically ask questions in relation to this matter.
I have, however, previously provided advice in relation to who was consulted in the government coming to its decision. It did include a range of stakeholders, including the Work Safety Council, the Law Society, the ACT Bar Association, the ACT Insurance Agency and, of course, UnionsACT. These stakeholders all expressed a range of concerns about these provisions commencing in their current form. Hence a decision was made, on the basis of that wide consultation with relevant stakeholders, that the provisions should not commence in their current form in April. That is why we are currently moving this amendment. That was actually pretty well explained in my presentation speech. Mr Wall is being a bit disingenuous in claiming that it was not explained to him.