15 March 2004

To: Ian Kemish, First Assistant Secretary, Public Diplomacy, Consular and Passports Division, Department of Foreign Affairs

Subject: Re: Passports Legislation Consultation Group - Further Submission

Dear Ian

I attach the Foundation's final submission in relation to this process.

Yours sincerely ... Roger Clarke

15 March 2004


The Privacy Foundation makes the following submission on the basis of the very limited information made available to it – comprising the published Background Paper, some details provide at the Consultative Group meeting on 23 February, and your 2-page letter of 3 March with attachments.

The Nature of the Exercise

As you know, we have been far from satisfied with the process and timetable. The exercise has been nothing more than a briefing about government intentions, with inadequate information, no ability to form a view on the substantive proposal, and no real prospect of interested parties being able to influence the review in any significant respect. In light of this, we deny that the process has been a consultation. We acknowledge that we have been briefed.

The Information Provided

The information provided to date is insufficient for us, or any other interested party, to make an informed assessment of the proposals.

As we understand it, the proposal is to replace an important piece of legislation in its entirety. We further understand that many provisions of the new statute will be considerably different from the existing one, and may sweep away a considerable body of finely-balanced case law and established policy and practice. Moreover, we understand that the new statute may incorporate a broad authorisation for the imposition on all Australians of an intrusive biometric scheme, dependent on new and untried technologies, using an as-yet undescribed system, with as-yet unknown safeguards.

The Foundation has communicated both in writing and orally what additional information is needed for an informed view.

In particular, we are disappointed that several specific items of information promised at the meeting on 23 February have not been provided.

In our letter of 25 February, we requested a number of additional and specific items of information, which arose from the information provided during the meeting. We have yet to receive any of this information or even an acknowledgement.

The Foundation’s Views

Because of the serious deficiencies in the information provided by the Department, the Foundation has been prevented from making a substantive submission. We once again draw attention to the general views we provided in our first submission, and to the additional perspectives that we offered and requests that we made during and after the meeting.

Failure of the Event

Because of the lack of information and the lack of any chance of discussions affecting the proposal, your process could not and did not meet your professed objective of 'providing Ministers with confidence that all issues have been identified through the legislative process'.

APF Contacts on this Issue
Professor Graham Greenleaf
Professor Roger Clarke
Nigel Waters

Index of APF Submissions
17 February 2004
25 February 2004
2 March 2004
15 March 2004 (this document)