Council's new privacy problem

UNHAPPY to be discussing a road not allowed to be named, due to new “privacy legislation” preventing Gympie Regional Council from naming parties that write to council, councillors went into “committee” on Tuesday shutting their meeting to the public.

New legislation meant an agenda item about a road realignment did not display the name of the party that wished to change the alignment, or the road – as it might lead to the identity of the writer.

The road in question was Zerner Road, Pie Creek, the reason it could not be named was because there are only three residents that live along the road – which may result in the writer being identified.

As councillors were unaware of what road they were discussing the meeting was soon closed so they could find out what exactly they were being asked to decide.

Cr Ian Petersen was the first to ask how he could make a decision about a road he didn't even know the name of.

“I think it's absolutely ridiculous, we're talking about a road that we're not allowed to name.

“The world has gone bloody mad,” he said.

Later, in the same meeting, the issue cropped up again in a topic about wild dog control.

In the past council has provided lists of property owners to baiting syndicates in council's “eastern division” so they can obtain the consent of residents within one kilometre of baits.

But this year due to the Information Privacy Act council officers legally have to obtain permission from property owners to release their personal information.

A report by council's general manager of works Grayden Curry revealed the information now could not be provided to baiting syndicates and council didn't have the time to gain consent from property owners for this year's program.

Meaning council's level of assistance for wild dog baiting syndicates would be reduced.

Upon hearing this, Cr Ian Petersen said council needed to put pressure on the State Government to review their privacy laws.

“Unless we do something about this legislation lunacy we will have stock losses and people losing pets,” he said.

Cr Tony Perrett agreed something needed to be done as “wild dogs didn't go away”.

He said council needed to make direct representations to the minister and “do whatever it takes” to get some action as it didn't take long for “wild dog numbers to increase”.

During last year's baiting program 1250 approval forms and 2900 notifications were required to conduct the wild dog baiting program.

Mr Curry's report went on to advise council there were now two options for this year's program.

Advising syndicates that council can't provide personal information and they needed to undertake all approvals and baiting themselves; or council could take on the role of seeking approvals – an option which would blow out council's budget for wild dog baiting and take Lands Protection Officers away from compliance duties.

But Cr Ian Petersen moved a motion that council write to the State Government requesting an urgent review of the aspects of the privacy act which prevent council from being able to operate effectively.

Councillors then voted to tell baiting syndicates they couldn't release information and any landholders wishing to bait this year would need to undertake all approvals and notifications.

Gympie Times


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