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Privileges Committee – Privacy Commissioner | House Clerk

Privileges Committee – Privacy Commissioner and the Clerk of the House – 7 November 2013

Scoop Audio+Video+Photos

By Hamish Cardwell

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff and Clerk of the House of Representatives Mary Harris spoke before Parliament's Privileges Committee in Wellington today.

The committee was originally called to hear submissions from those involved in the release of a journalist's emails and phone and swipe card records to the Henry Inquiry after a leaked report into the GCSB was published in the Dominion Post.

Clerk of the House Mary Harris

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Clerk of the House Mary Harris

Ms Harris said there needed to be simple parliamentary protocols around the release of information, with more discipline around who owned the information held on Parliament's computer systems.

The same computer system held personal, ministerial and electorate information and there needed to be a way to separate what was subject to the official information requests from other kinds of information.

The Ombudsman could be useful as an arbitrator, she said.

Office of the Clerk's submission: Fullevidencetext_1.pdf

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MP3 format or in OGG format.

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Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff

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Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff

Ms Shroff said the Privacy Act and the Official Information Act were established pieces of legislation which could act as a useful guide for determining rules around the release of information of those working within the parliamentary complex.

There was no need to reinvent the wheel, she said.

Over the years it had become possible to collect huge amounts of data and there had been a failure to recognise information as an asset. These environmental changes had put put huge pressure on agencies and could lead to ad hoc responses, she said.

The key thing was having a purpose for the information. You needed to know why you are collecting it, and people needed be to kept in the loop otherwise they could get upset.

Ms Ms Shroff said she personally would preferred to see standing orders govern the release of information rather than legislating through an act of parliament.

The Privacy Commissioner's submission: Fullevidencetext_2.pdf

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format or in OGG format.

Full audio of Ms Shroff's speaking before the Privileges Committee

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format or in OGG format.

Ms Shroff speaking to reporters after the hearing

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MP3 format or in OGG format.

Privileges Chairperson Chris Finlayson speaking to reporters after the hearing

Mr Finlayson said the the committee had asked for submissions from international Parliaments.

Read their submissions here:

Clerk of the House of Commons, Canada:


Clerk of the Senate, Canada:


United Kingdom Clerk of the House of Commons:


United Kingdom Speaker's Counsel:




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