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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 October 2010) . . Page.. 5097 ..

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Assembly met at 10 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Workplace Privacy Bill 2010

Ms Bresnan, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (10.03): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am proud to present to the Assembly the Workplace Privacy Bill 2010. This bill continues the ACT Greens’ dedication to protecting rights for people in the workplace and will place the ACT at the forefront of the nation in recognising privacy as a right that must be respected in the workplace.

This bill comes at a time when developments in surveillance technology increasingly encroach upon our lives. Ever more sophisticated computer monitoring software, widespread use of GPS tracking on items as small as car keys and commercially available miniaturised cameras to the size of USB thumb drives provide the ability for widespread surveillance of people in the workplace.

Privacy is considered a human right, both under the ACT Human Rights Act and in international treaties, and yet it is not an absolute right in the case of surveillance of workers. It needs to be balanced against the rights of employers to take reasonable steps to operate and protect their businesses. I believe that this bill balances these rights and provides clarity to both workers and employers on the conduct of surveillance and the right to privacy in the workplace.

This bill is the first in the ACT to explicitly recognise privacy in the relationship between employees and employers. The lack of regulation to date in this area has led to some very problematic outcomes, including distribution of personal emails without the sender’s knowledge or consent, the installation and use of secret cameras in workplaces and the tracking of workers’ activities outside working hours.

The bill divides surveillance into three types: notified, covert and prohibited. The vast majority of surveillance that will take place in the ACT under this bill will be notified surveillance. Notified surveillance requires an employer to notify and consult with employees on what type of surveillance will take place, where it will take place and what the surveillance can be used for. Once an employer has set out in a notice or

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