Standing up for Canberra

Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Protection) I Bill 2012

The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 will amend the Privacy Act 1988 to put into operation over half of the recommendations in the Australian Law Reform Commission's report 108, of 2008, called For your information : Australian privacy law and practice.

The aim of this bill is to create a new set of unified Australian privacy principles. These privacy principles will apply equally to the private and public sectors. The principles will maintain the handling of personal information, which includes the collection, storage, security, use, disclosure and accuracy of information. Importantly, there will be the establishment of a new principle that will specifically address direct marketing, which was applauded by my colleague the member for Hindmarsh just now.

It is very important to have in place stronger protections for consumers, such as disclosure of information to overseas companies and organisations. This bill will also put into practice more comprehensive credit reporting, which will, for the first time, include positive information in consumers' credit reports. I welcome this initiative because it rewards good behaviour.

I have spoken many times in this House on the issue of credit cards and people getting into serious debt as a result of credit cards, which is why I have been such a strong advocate for financial literacy training in my electorate, and why I have welcomed the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer coming to the electorate a number of times. He has presented to a seniors group in Tuggeranong and also a group in Griffith, about financial literacy, the responsible use of credit, and, most importantly, scams.

These seminars have been a huge hit in the electorate. I am very much looking forward to having many more in the future, subject to the parliamentary secretary's diary and availability. I would particularly like him to come out during MoneySmart Week. I do not know whether that is going to be possible but I am very much looking forward to holding a number of these financial literacy seminars between now and the end of the year because they have been so popular. Not only do people get a raft of information on a range of areas, including scams, responsible use of credits cards, budgeting and superannuation, but they also go away with a fabulous show bag.

I will just go back to MoneySmart Week. MoneySmart Week is coming up in the first week of September. I strongly encourage all Australians, but most importantly Canberrans, to take part in MoneySmart Week. It is an independent, not-for-profit national initiative and it promotes the importance of financial literacy. Knowing how to make sound money decisions is a very important skill for people in today's world, regardless of their age. That has been obvious from my financial literacy seminars. I have had people from all ages, from all walks of life, coming to these seminars and trying to find out how they can better control their money and improve their financial management as a result of that.

There are a range of activities that are being held during MoneySmart Week including a call to action for Australians to take the next step in their financial health through 'Do a money health check!'. I did the money health check the other night, during one of the late night sittings. It only takes a few minutes. It gives you a really good idea about your wills, mortgage management, savings and a whole range of areas in terms of making yourself more money smart. So I do encourage people in the electorate—and Australians who are listening—to take that money health check. It is on the website. As I said, it takes a few minutes and it gives you a good, quick readout of your financial situation. It also gives you a number of tips and actions you can take to address the issues that are raised in the report card.

We also have a national awards program that recognises outstanding achievements in financial literacy and we are promoting existing money management programs, tools and resources, as well as conducting a special range of activities and events in workplaces and the community.

I just want to draw attention to one of the activities taking place in my electorate. On 5 September, from 10 to 11, the money health check, which I have just mentioned, and the Saver Plus information session will be held by the Smith Family in Woden. As I said, the money health check is a really useful tool, which I have been promoting through Twitter and Facebook, to help people to understand their financial state.

I also want to bring attention to the fact that the parliamentary secretary recently launched a TrackMySpend smart phone app. Again, this is available; you can download the app off the MoneySmart web site. It just means that when you are out in the shops with your smart phone you can link into the app—it is free—and you can put in how much you are spending on groceries or dinner and track your spending. You can work out how your spending goes against your budget and your savings. It is just another way that people can improve their understanding of their financial situation.

The ABS household expenditure data shows that the average Australian household spends about $1,236 per week, yet only 54 per cent of 1,400 people who completed the money health check tool that I just mentioned said that they knew exactly where their money is spent and what it is spent on. So this little smart phone app will help people gain a greater understanding. Having a greater understanding of what you are spending your money on gives you more power and control over your money.

Finally, I want to talk about scams. They come up a lot. I am sure that every member in this parliament has had constituents coming to talk to them about the fact that they have been scammed. My own mother has been scanned. My father-in-law, tragically just shortly after my mother-in-law died, was scammed. Many years ago I was scammed trying to get a US visa, when I thought I had to get a US visa. So many members of my family and many in my electorate have been the victims of scams.

The Australian Institute of Criminology recently released the results of the 2010-11 online scam survey that was held in partnership with the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce. Australians who participated in the survey had lost almost $7 million in 2011. The annual survey gives a snapshot of our exposure to consumer scams and can help identify scams as they happen.

Most importantly—this would be of interest to many Canberrans and Australians listening—dating scams were the most likely to result in financial loss or the disclosure of personal details, with almost half of victims reporting they had lost money. So, I ask all of those who are looking for love to be aware of some of the scams that are out there.

Also, in 2010, people aged between 45 and 54 reported the highest percentage of victimisation in terms of scams. In 2011 the age group with the highest victimisation rate shifted to those aged 65 years and over. That is definitely borne out by the experience of those in my electorate. It is definitely that demographic coming to me and talking about how they have been duped in scams. Many of them have lost a lot of money. Again, I have spoken in his House about my— (debate interrupted)

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