Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 26 September 2019) . . Page.. 3990 ..
The formalisation of information sharing into territory law also unreasonably limits an individual’s right to privacy and reputation. The JACS scrutiny report alluded to these privacy concerns, stating:
… the collation of the information for presentation to unions may itself be considered disclosure of private information and hence a limit on the protection against the unreasonable interference with privacy protected under section 12 of the HRA—
the Human Rights Act.
The amendment also explicitly states that the personal information and data will only be provided to the relevant unions as defined in enterprise agreements. However, as just one example, the ACT Public Sector Administrative and Related Classifications Enterprise Agreement covers 14 unions, and new starter information would be provided to any number of those 14 unions. Section 242A would remove the option to renegotiate this arrangement at the expiration of the current EBA.
It makes sense that if there are to be arrangements which may limit human rights or privacy as defined under the law then decisions regarding those arrangements should be negotiated with the people the change directly impacts. It is hypocritical of this government to claim to be the party of the worker and then choose to undermine the fundamental right of public servants to doggedly pursue their radical union agenda.
If the government were truly interested in reasonably minimising the human rights impacts that this amendment would have on public servants then the amendment would mandate that the opt-out section of the EBA would also be explained in languages other than English. This would ensure that new starter public servants who are linguistically diverse would not unwittingly elect to have their information shared without their full understanding or consent. Given that over 17 per cent of ACT public servants identified as culturally and linguistically diverse in the last State of the Service report, it is vitally important that future public servants are properly informed of their rights to opt out of this legislation.
What is perhaps just as concerning is the safety and security of public servants’ private and personal data by these unions. Despite unions being covered under commonwealth privacy provisions, the track record of unions with regard to adhering to the letter of the law raises major concerns as to where and how the personal data of public servants is stored and used. There is, of course, no shortage of media stories and legal cases that illustrate this point, from allegations of violent assault to allegations of shady donations and corruption. The militant unions continue to prove that they do not think they are above breaking the law for their own gain. What is to stop them from misusing personal data to this same end?
This government has a track record of being weak on transparency and questionable on integrity matters. I cannot imagine Mr Barr holding his union mates to account on either. Over the course of Mr Barr’s term as Chief Minister, we have seen the deliberate and systemic formalisation of union oversight and power through territory legislation. The ACT government is slowly but surely relinquishing its power to the