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Mr HERBERT (Minister for Training and Skills) tabled following statement in accordance with Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006:
In accordance with section 28 of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the 'charter'), I make this statement of compatibility with respect to the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Amendment Bill 2015.
In my opinion, the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Amendment Bill 2015, as introduced to the Legislative Council, is compatible with human rights as set out in the charter. I base my opinion on the reasons outlined in this statement.
Human rights issues
Section 6 of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014 overrides the charter in respect of the Legal Profession Uniform Law (uniform law), and bodies performing functions or exercising powers under the uniform law. However, statements of compatibility are still required for any bills that amend the uniform law.
At section 13, the charter provides that a person has the right not to have his or her privacy 'unlawfully or arbitrarily interfered with'. This is relevant to clause 26 of the bill, which inserts a new section into the Legal Profession Uniform Law (uniform law) to provide that a 'relevant person' may disclose information obtained in the administration of the Legal Profession Uniform Law or the Legal Profession Uniform Rules to a person or body in a non-participating jurisdiction (that is, a state or territory that has not applied the Legal Profession Uniform Law) in relation to a function of that person or body under a law which corresponds to the Legal Profession Uniform Law.
A 'relevant person' is defined to mean a range of persons and bodies performing functions under the Legal Profession Uniform Law. In Victoria, it includes the Victorian Legal Services Board and commissioner (and their delegates) and the Victorian Legal Admissions Board.
The kind of information disclosed under the new provision could include personal information — for example, information relating to a disciplinary investigation into a particular legal practitioner.
The disclosure of information as contemplated by clause 26 of the bill would not be unlawful as it would be authorised by legislation. It would also not be arbitrary, as it would need to occur in connection with the respective roles of the person or body performing functions under the Legal Profession Uniform Law, and the person or body performing functions under a corresponding law — that is, it would need to be connected with their mutual responsibilities for regulation of the Australian legal profession.
Also, the additional power to disclose information conferred by clause 26 extends only to persons or bodies in Australian states and territories other than NSW (disclosure to NSW is already authorised by the uniform law). Each Australian state or territory has a regime, either legislative or administrative, for protecting personal information, to which the relevant persons or bodies would be subject.
The Hon. Steve Herbert, MP
Minister for Training and Skills