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Australian Government - Office of the Australian Information Commissioner - Home

Statement on

8 April 2019

On 13 February 2019 the OAIC commenced preliminary inquiries in relation to the actions of Mr Tim Wilson MP and Wilson Asset Management (International) Pty Ltd, in respect of alleged interferences with privacy related to the handling of personal information collected through the ‘’ website.

The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (the Privacy Act) confers a range of regulatory powers on the Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, including the power to investigate an act or practice that may be an interference with the privacy of an individual.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) made preliminary inquiries to establish whether it had jurisdiction under the Privacy Act to investigate the actions of Mr Wilson.

On the basis of the OAIC’s preliminary inquiries, the Commissioner has formed the view that there is no jurisdiction to investigate Mr Wilson’s actions. This is because the information before the Commissioner indicates that Mr Wilson was acting as a Member of Parliament in the operation of the website. Registered political parties, and acts or practices by a political representative for any purpose in connection with the participation by the political representative in an aspect of the political process, are exempt from the Privacy Act.

Even if Mr Wilson was acting in his capacity as Chair of a Committee, the Commissioner considers that the appointment as a chair of a parliamentary committee is unlikely to come within the definition of ‘agency’ for the purposes of the Privacy Act. The reference to an appointment made by the Governor-General, or by a Minister, in the definition of an agency in s 6(1) of the Privacy Act means it is more likely a reference to executive appointments, rather than non-executive appointments in relation to the membership of a Committee.

In any case, the transacting of the business of a House or a committee constitutes proceedings in Parliament for the purpose of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 (Cth) and is accordingly subject to parliamentary immunity. The Privacy Act is unenforceable in circumstances where parliamentary immunity applies.

The OAIC’s inquiries regarding Wilson Asset Management (International) Pty Ltd are continuing and accordingly the OAIC will not make any further comment at this time.