Media Release: Media Statement

2 March 2017

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services

The Government takes privacy very seriously and complies with all the requirements of the relevant legislation to ensure that Australians’ information is treated, and safeguarded, appropriately.

In particular, the Privacy Act 1988 sets out the Australian Privacy Principles, which cover the collection, use and disclosure of information by Government Agencies.

However, where a person makes a false public statement about their dealings with the Department of Human Services, whether through the media or otherwise, social security law and family assistance law enables the Department to disclose customer information to the extent that it is necessary to correct factual inaccuracies or potentially misleading information.

These provisions are important in order for our public institutions to be able to correct the record when false accusations are made about their conduct.  If unanswered, accusations of this kind may have the effect of diminishing public confidence in them.

Ms Fox made false assertions about Centrelink in her column in the Fairfax media.

Information provided by my office to Fairfax in response to their enquiries about Ms Fox’s claims was done with the approval of the Chief Legal Counsel of the Department of Human Services.  It was provided to correct Ms Fox’s false assertions.