Page 2441 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 August 2015

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comprehensive and current holdings of personal information. It is not appropriate for commercial entities to base their business models on extensive access to personal information held by these agencies, particularly when there are a number of other business models available that do not rely upon government disclosure.

Private car park operators can, for example, use boom gates to prevent customers from leaving without paying. The government also authorises private car parking operators to be parking authorities, and in these cases the government will conduct enforcement operations for the private operator. Unfortunately, it appears to be the situation that some car parking operators have decided that they do not want to use these methods to conduct enforcement at their car parking operations. Instead, they want to set up a model that relies upon constant access to the government’s database of residents’ registration information. This is not a practice this government supports.

That is important to reflect on, and I have thought carefully about the two tensions that operate here—the right of private car park operators to run a legitimate business and to be able to collect their parking fees versus the rights of personal privacy and the personal privacy principles that the government is subjected to. There are a number of legitimate business models that people can operate—and plenty of private car park operators do with boom gates and the like—that mean the government can go down this path and private car park operators can still operate legitimately.

Mr Hanson flagged the prospect of wheel clamping. Yes, that is an option that is available. There are certainly far better options available, and if a private car park operator chooses to go down that path, they will have to deal with community expectations and they may find their car park rather empty.

Road transport authorities across Australia are agencies with extremely comprehensive and current holdings of personal information, as I have said, and there is a need to protect this information and ensure it is not liable to disclosure to and exploitation by commercial entities. We should not support commercial business models based on large-scale access to personal information held by government. This is certainly not what residents in the ACT want or would expect.

Looking to other jurisdictions reveals how this situation can unfold. It results in serious consumer protection issues. Firstly, around Australia private car park operators have been found by various courts and tribunals to have issued documents closely resembling or purporting to be infringement notices. These notices are, in fact, claims for liquidated damages based on a reported breach of contract. The notices have been held to be both misleading, in that the documents deliberately resemble government-issued infringement notices, and as a matter of contract law unenforceable as the claimed damages have no connection to the actual losses suffered by the car park operator.

When considering a similar amendment to Victoria’s Road Safety Act 1986, the Special Minister of State noted that there is a legitimate interest in restricting the ability of private car park operators to issue demands for excessive liquidated damages which, if contested, are likely to be declared unenforceable. The Special Minister of State further noted that although certain Victorian operators were lodging

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