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Thursday, March 29, 2007

What's the difference between a Kiwi voter and an Aussie voter?

No smart Kiwi jokes here.

But for one thing, the Kiwi can get to find out more than the Aussie about what political parties have on file about them.

According to this article posted on Stuff, the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner has confirmed that despite the fact that the Parliament and individual members are exempt from the Privacy Act, members of the public can request to see what is held about them on political party databases.

No such prospect in Australia. The Federal Privacy Act excludes a "registered political party" from the definition of an organisation covered by the Act and, in addition the political acts and practices of members of Parliament (and others) are covered by an exemption. This includes elections and other aspects of the political process.

There is no doubt that Australian political parties - like their New Zealand counterparts - have very sophisticated databases on voters. Apart from our name and address (the source of all those personally addressed letters at election time), this is likely to include other information about issues we may have raised with our local member, information about age and in some instances ethnicity. Who knows what else?

The difference is in New Zealand you apparently have a right to see what a political party holds and presumably the right to correct.

In Australia, no such right but at least an issue identified in the Australian Law Reform Commission Issues Paper (Chapter 5, paragraph 5.163 and following) as a question for consideration in its review of privacy legislation.

Thanks to for the lead.

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