Page 216 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

employees are aware of the policy. Employers will also be required to notify employees via stopped delivery notices when a program prevents delivery of a communication. This is to ensure that workers are aware if their emails are being read, if their internet use is being monitored or if phone calls are being logged. Again, this is consistent with the principle that to protect their own privacy workers should be made aware of when and how their communications are being monitored.

It is my understanding that the government will be providing an amendment, as Mr Corbell has already foreshadowed, to this part of the legislation requiring employers to set an appropriate use of computer resources policy. This amendment is a commonsense addition to the bill and the ACT Greens will be supporting it.

For tracking surveillance, employers will be required to label that an object is being tracked. Again as Mr Corbell has foreshadowed, the government will be moving a series of amendments to make the penalties consistent with the listening devices act. The ACT Greens welcome these amendments and appreciate the need for consistency in penalties across legislation and will be supporting them.

In most circumstances employer surveillance requirements can be fulfilled legitimately through the use of notified surveillance under the provisions of this bill. However, there are limited sets of circumstances specifically where there is a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity taking place where covert surveillance may be justified.

It is to this end that the Workplace Privacy Bill sets out a process where an employer may apply to the Magistrates Court for an authority for a nominated surveillance supervisor to conduct covert surveillance of a workplace for a limited period. The government have proposed an amendment to clarify that the surveillance supervisor must be suitably independent of the employer. The ACT Greens will be supporting this amendment. This was also a concern that the Liberals raised, and we believe obviously this has been addressed through that amendment.

This bill recognises that covert surveillance of workers by their employers is a substantial breach of the privacy of workers, which is why this scheme requires an independent surveillance supervisor to conduct all surveillance who can then pass on only the relevant parts of surveillance records to the employer to use to take action in the event that unlawful activity has taken place. Strict requirements and associated penalties are placed upon the use and misuse of covert surveillance records.

The bill provides a clear set of guidelines for the Magistrates Court to consider when deciding whether to grant the covert surveillance authority, including whether covert surveillance is the most appropriate means of detecting unlawful activity and consideration of the privacy of other employees.

The bill also sets out a number of locations in the workplace where surveillance is prohibited, where common sense dictates that surveillance is highly inappropriate, including toilets, change rooms, prayer rooms and parenting rooms. The ACT Greens will support the amendment from the government adding two more items to the prohibited surveillance section.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video