The report reminds
- in 1973, the former South Australian Law Reform Committee recommended that a general right of privacy be created;
- bills to establish that right were introduced into the parliament in 1974 and again in 1991 but were both defeated;
- the Australian Law Reform Commission in 2008, the NSW Law Reform Commission in 2009, and the Victorian Law Reform Commission in 2010 recommended the introduction of a statutory cause of action for invasion of privacy;
- the Australian Law Reform Commission returned to the subject again in 2014 when the report "Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Age" recommended that if a cause of action for serious invasions of privacy is to be enacted, it should be enacted by the Commonwealth and should specifically deal with invasions of privacy by intrusion upon seclusion and by misuse of private information.
(The SA report is the subject of discussion on Radio National's The Law Report.)
Despite some differences in detail the main thrust of all the reports is that a statutory cause of action or tort should be enacted and just about everyone agrees that national consistency is desirable.
However law reform experts in SA and members of the NSW parliamentary committee at least have run out of patience with the federal government and recommend moving ahead regardless.
Federal Labor baulked at acting on the 2008 ALRC recommendation which came under heavy fire from some in the media led by Chris Merritt of The Australian, and passed the parcel back to the ALRC commissioning the privacy in the digital age report.
The only wisdom from Commonwealth Attorney General Brandis on the subject since assuming office is "the Government has made it clear on numerous occasions that it does not support a tort of privacy"- as reported by Chris Merritt.
To let the state borders determine the extent to which citizens enjoy practical protection of their privacy rights in this privacy intrusive day and age is a crazy way to run the federation. Different railway gauges anyone?