24 May 2012

Introduction of Privacy Bill to Parliament

by Philippa Hore, Chris McLeod

The changes to privacy law include creating a single set of Australian Privacy Principles, and new provisions on privacy codes and the credit reporting code

As foreshadowed earlier this month, the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 was introduced into Parliament on Wednesday 23 May. The Bill implements the Government's first stage response to the Australian Law Reform Commission's 2008 report For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice.

As expected, the Bill amends the Privacy Act to:

  • create a single set of Australian Privacy Principles, which will apply to both Commonwealth agencies and private sector organisations (replacing the existing National Privacy Principles and Information Privacy Principles);
  • introduce more comprehensive credit reporting with improved privacy protections;
  • introduce new provisions on privacy codes and the credit reporting code; and
  • clarify the functions and powers of the Commissioner and improve the Commissioner's ability to resolve complaints, recognise and encourage the use of external dispute resolution services, conduct investigations and promote privacy compliance.

Deferred commencement

Importantly, the majority of the new provisions have a deferred commencement of nine months from the day after the Bill receives Royal Assent, in order to allow organisations and agencies time to prepare for the introduction of the new provisions.

Structure of the Bill

The substantive elements of the reforms are set out in six schedules to the Bill, each of which deals with a particular subject, including definitions:

  • Schedule 1 – Australian Privacy Principles
  • Schedule 2 – Credit reporting
  • Schedule 3 – Privacy codes
  • Schedule 4 – Other amendments of the Privacy Act 1988
  • Schedule 5 – Amendment of other Acts
  • Schedule 6 – Application, transitional and savings provisions

Summaries of proposed changes

We are reviewing the content of the Bill, and will circulate over the coming weeks summaries of the proposed changes in key areas such as direct marketing, transborder data flows, privacy policies, privacy collection statements, the credit reporting requirements and the powers of the Commissioner.


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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.