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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 November 2021) . . Page.. 3874 ..

compensation claims was originally published on the Tenders ACT website deliberately, as part of an ACT government procurement process. The information was taken down when the tender closed but it was accidentally made visible again several years later, following a systems change.

Ms Lee and Mrs Jones have asserted that it was available for three years. I understand it to be a different set of circumstances. I guess this is something that the investigation process will reveal. That is the value of the external review that Minister Steel has referenced in his amendment.

I recognise the legitimate concerns that are being raised by some in the community. It is important that a review of the incident occurs to determine what has occurred and what action may be required as a consequence of those findings. The Information Commissioner is an appropriate entity to conduct this review.

Let me put on the record again, on behalf of the Greens, that any privacy breach is deeply troubling. We need to find out the circumstances of the recent incident, if it is indeed an incident in breach of the privacy principles or the Privacy Act, how it occurred, if it reveals any problems that need to be rectified and, if so, what are the steps that need to be taken to make that rectification. There are a whole series of questions there that are important that we do understand very clearly.

As Minister Steel has discussed, the potential breach is being taken very seriously. I understand that an internal investigation was initiated immediately, and Minister Steel outlined that in question time last week. That is an appropriate first step. We have public servants who work as privacy officers. It is part of their role to investigate these matters and ensure that the privacy principles are adhered to. I do not see any problem with this being the first point of investigation because I put some considerable stead in the professionalism of our ACT public servants and that they take these roles very seriously. It is their job to be watchdogs within the government to make sure that these rules are adhered to.

However, as Minister Steel has also described, the decision was taken recently to formally refer the matter to the office of the information privacy commissioner for investigation and report. I agree with that decision. The commissioner will report back on the incident, and the government is committed to cooperating fully with any investigation and reporting back to the Assembly on the outcomes of any action, decision or investigation undertaken by the commissioner.

If there are recommendations from the commissioner to take action under the Privacy Act, I will respond to those as the Attorney-General, in partnership and working with Minister Steel as the minister responsible for this matter. As I also noted when this issue was raised with me in question time last week, I will wait to see what any recommendations have to say, because that, of course, is the appropriate course of action. This referral to the commissioner also meets the request in Ms Lee’s motion.

The Greens will be supporting Minister Steel’s amendment, which describes the referral to the commissioner and still meets the request in Ms Lee’s motion but with updated information. I do expect that that process will get to the bottom of this issue.

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