Legal guidelines used to justify the release of recipient's personal details were incorrect.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) has labelled the legal guidelines quoted in Parliament by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge to justify the releasing of personal details of welfare recipient Andie Fox as incorrect.
Labor’s Linda Burney moved to suspend Parliament on Tuesday so that Mr Tudge could explain the release of Ms Fox’s personal details to the media.
“We are able under the Social Services Act to release information about the person for the purposes of, as I quote, ‘correcting a mistake of fact, a misleading perception or impression or a misleading statement in relation to a welfare recipient’,” said Mr Tudge.
“That is what the law allows. It allows the correction of false information which has been placed in the media. Now in relation to Andie Fox there was false information that was placed into the media, which she herself penned. And so information was provided to correct the record in relation to those allegations,” he said
The guidelines that Mr Tudge quoted are only relevant if the department secretary issues a public interest certificate authorising the release of personal information. DHS has confirmed that no certificate was issued and that it didn’t release the information under the law that was quoted by Mr Tudge. However, the department stated that the information was released to the Minister under the following law:
‘Relevant information may be disclosed for the purpose of this section if the disclosure is necessary ... to brief a minister in relation to issues raised or proposed to be raised publicly by or on behalf of the person to whom the relevant information relates so that the minister can respond by correcting a mistake of fact, a misleading perception or impression, or a misleading statement’
Parliament is expected to be suspended at some point today, so that Minister Tudge can be further questioned about his legal justification for leaking Ms Fox’s personal details to the media.
What do you think? Is the Minister in deep trouble for not seeking a public interest certificate? Is the release of personal details, without the approval of the welfare recipient, morally wrong? Should Minister Tudge resign?