Page 3751 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 26 August 2009

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situations, and the Attorney has mentioned some of those organisations. It will provide an added layer of protection for people who might otherwise serve their community were it not for their concern about their personal security, for whatever reason. It will give them the option of limiting exposure to their personal contact details to the general public. This is a sensible amendment, which acknowledges people’s right to privacy and security and, at the same time, enhances the opportunities for people to serve their community.

The Canberra Liberals are pleased to support the bill, but we also urge the government to consider the wider and practical implications and to come back to this place in due course with a way forward if these amendments, in fact, create unintended barriers.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.53), in reply: I would like thank members today for their comments on the bill and for their support. When I tabled the bill back in April, I did invite members to contact my office with any suggestions or concerns. The one issue that Mrs Dunne has touched on that was raised was that of issuing subpoenas if physical addresses for representatives of organisations are not publicly available.

We did consider this issue at quite some length and looked at ways that we could clarify the process to alleviate any concerns that courts may not be able to issue subpoenas due to lack of public access to residential or business addresses. However, we believe we have got the balance right in this bill—the balance between what the bill seeks to achieve and the difficulties that courts may have in contacting people.

Proposed new section 13A(4) requires the public officer to have one address available for public inspection, thus ensuring that organisational representatives are contactable. However, should a public officer choose, then they could indeed list a post office box address under the current proposal. While I did consider removing the post office box as an option here, the result would effectively undermine the purpose of the bill for those people elected as public officers on behalf of their organisations. The intent of the bill is to ensure public officers the same level as protection as other committee members, not to expose them, although it is worth remembering, as I mentioned in the tabling speech, that most people who serve as public officers will be happy to provide the range of contact details.

There are many ways and means that courts have available to them to find people who do not wish to be found. However, the potential for this bill to close down those ways and means is somewhat limited. The Register of Associated Incorporations is not especially relevant in court actions against individuals. Rather, it is more likely that a court would require a contact for an organisation. As such, the removal of individuals’ physical addresses from the public record is unlikely to be a concern.

Courts are able to use electoral records, last known address or even a court order to obtain details. Should a court apply for information from the Registrar-General using a court order, our bill would not apply to that process to for obtaining information as it is not being sought under section 11. Therefore, the requirement on the Registrar-General to produce the document in a way that does not show the person’s address does not apply.

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