In an answer to a question the day before, Attorney General John Hatzistergos said the Law Reform Commission proposal for the Information Commissioner to have some privacy related functions and for Privacy Commissioner to be Deputy Information Commissioner "amounted to a demotion of the importance of the Privacy Commissioner." Given the government's history of an unsuccessful attempt to abolish Privacy NSW some years ago, long periods when the Commission had no permanent commissioner, its decade as a business unit of the Attorney General's Department, and underfunding since the office was established, this emphasis on the importance and independence of the office, while welcome, produced a few wry smiles.
The Bill got no further in Parliament than this "in principle speech" in the Legislative Assembly before Parliament rose until the end of August, so the changes will lag commencement of the GIPA act on 1 July. The two bodies in any event are now co-located.
The Bill also amends the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act by removing the amendment of personal information provisions transferred from the Freedom of Information Act by the Government Information (Public Access) Act, and related legislation. As a result amendment applications will be processed in accordance with the pre -existing provisions of the privacy act, amended to include for the first time a right to amend information held by a minister. The transfer of provisions from the FOI act had created two different rights to amend in the same act.