Clarence Valley Council denies privacy laws breach
THE way the NSW Government gained access to details of people who owned land near the site of the new Grafton jail has led Clarence Valley Council to consider a change to its policies.
The council's general manager Ashley Lindsay has written to the affected residents explaining that while the council had not breached privacy laws, it had departed from its usual approach in these matters.
A council spokesman said he was aware at least one resident had made freedom of information requests under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.
In the letter, Mr Lindsay acknowledged some residents feared the council had breached privacy laws.
He said this was not the case and sought to explain how the GIPA Act and the related Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act affected the decision to pass on ratepayer information to the government department.
"Council notes your concerns that as the council provided the department with the names and addresses of those persons who own properties in close proximity to the then- proposed site of the new Grafton jail that there may have been a breach of privacy under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998," the letter said.
"You also raised concerns the department should have made their request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009."
Mr Lindsay said the bottom line was there was no breach of privacy because the information supplied was publicly available from numerous sources.
He said the information could be found through the Torrens Title register, the electoral roll, the Yellow/White Pages and other sites on the internet.
But he said in other instances, the council had taken a different approach and consulted with individuals prior to the release of similar information.
Mr Lindsay said the council would implement changes to ensure the public was made aware of similar disclosures in the future.
"These are in the process of being reviewed and staff training will be provided in respect of the release of personal information.
"This will include implementing a uniform approach to dealing with these issues to ensure consistency across council."