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Consultation begins on privacy and right to information reform

Queenslanders are being encouraged to have their say on proposed reforms to the state’s information privacy and right to information legislation.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said the consultation paper released on Friday sought views from a range of individuals, interest groups, government agencies, statutory bodies and the legal sector.

“Protecting people’s privacy and supporting right to information are important issues that affect all Queenslanders and are matters this Government takes seriously,” Ms Fentiman said.

“It’s critical our Information Privacy Act effectively protects individuals’ personal information and provides appropriate remedies and responses when privacy is breached.

“The proposed reforms reflect a number of recommendations already made by the Crime and Corruption Commission.

“Community input from a diverse range of stakeholders will further strengthen our legislation, helping to ensure it is relevant and effective, and I encourage everyone with an interest to comment.”

Almost 13-years ago, the State Government enacted the Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (IPA) to make more information available to members of the community, and provide a framework for the lawful management and handling of individuals’ personal information.

The IPA also provides a right for individuals to have their personal information collected and handled in accordance with certain rules or ‘privacy principles’.

The privacy principles only apply to Queensland Government agencies. The Act does not cover actions by individual citizens, privacy sector organisations or the community sector.

The consultation paper released on Friday calls for feedback on proposed reforms in line with recommendations made by the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) in its ‘Operation Impala Report’, including:

  • whether the Information Commissioner should have enhanced powers to investigate privacy breaches
  • consideration of whether Queensland should have a mandatory data breach notification scheme, and
  • a decision on whether Queensland should adopt a single set of privacy principles that are more aligned with those in the Commonwealth Privacy Act.

The CCC held public hearings in November 2019 as part of Operation Impalato examine a number of issues, including factors which facilitate misuse of information within the Queensland public sector, by examination of the technical, people, and systems components of information management within Queensland Police Service, Queensland Corrective Services, Department of Education, Department of Health (including two Hospital and Health Services – Gold Coast HHS and Mackay HHS) and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

It was also charged with providing recommendations for reforms to better prevent, detect and deal with corrupt conduct relating to misuse of information within the identified agencies.

The CCC’s report and recommendations were tabled in Parliament on 21 February 2020.

Ms Fentiman said the proposed changes to RTI processes should make them more efficient for the thousands of Queenslanders who apply for information every year.

She said reforms being considered to the RTI Act would streamline and modernise its provisions, including:

  • the introduction of a single right of access to information to make applications for documents and processing a simpler process
  • the removal of the requirement to apply on the prescribed form, and
  • make it easier for evidence of identity documents to be certified.

Submissions on the consultation paper will close on 22 July. Submissions can be made to RTIreforms@justice.qld.gov.au.

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