Australia’s never-ending privacy reform process

Graham Greenleaf argues that the current reform proposals include only few aspects of real significance, but legislation is nevertheless expected in 2024.

The reform of Australia’s federal Privacy Act 1988 seems to have become a never-ending process of vague uncertain commitments regularly delaying actual legislation. The latest instalment is the new (May 2022) Labor government’s Government response to the Privacy Act Review Report (September 2023).(1) Draft legislation is not expected until some time in 2024.

In October 2021 the previous (conservative coalition) government released a Discussion Paper containing reform recommendations on which the new “government response” proposals for reform are substantially based. Katharine Kemp and I argued(2) that it was difficult to work out which of the 116 proposals advanced by the Discussion Paper should be taken seriously, because it contained some proposals incompatible with others, and because the key reforms needed (particularly abolition of exemptions) were completely absent. Other reforms were just badly drafted (direct enforcement of the Act, and the proposed “serious interferences” with privacy tort).

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