Budget 2016: OAIC walks home with AU$9.3m annually for next four years

After running on the smell of an oily rag and burning its cash stockpile in years past, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has been funded with AU$8.1 million until June 2020.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

It's far from the most money allocated in the 2016-17 Australian Federal Budget, but with AU$9.3 million set aside over the next four years, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is at least funded.

In years past, the OAIC has suffered a near-death experience, been gutted, and lived in limbo as its fate was decided.

The funding will cost the overall Budget bottom line AU$8.1 million, after much of the AU$9.3 million is transferred from other areas of the Attorney-General's Department.

"$6.7 million per year for privacy functions will be transferred to the OAIC from the Australian Human Rights Commission, and $0.6 million per year will be transferred from the Attorney-General's Department for Freedom of Information functions," the Budget papers said.

Although OAIC is charged with investigating data breaches, Australia is currently without data breach-notification laws, despite the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security recommending in February 2015 that Australia have data-breach notification laws in place before the end of 2015, prior to the implementation phase of the data-retention laws that Labor voted to introduce.

Under Australia's data-retention laws, approved law-enforcement agencies are able to warrantlessly access two years' worth of customers' call records, location information, IP addresses, billing information, and other data stored by telcos.

Should Labor win the impending July 2 election, Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has said the incoming government would look to get the stalled data breach-notification laws passed with support from the conservative parties.

"Mandatory data breach legislation was a Labor commitment, and it is one that we maintain," Dreyfus told ZDNet.

"If elected, a Labor government would once again bring forward the legislation as soon as practicable, with the expectation of bipartisan support."

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