The law reform process

1.55 The ALRC was given Terms of Reference in June 2013 and asked to report to the Attorney-General by June 2014. These Terms of Reference set out and limit the scope of the ALRC’s Inquiry.

1.56 The Report is the final stage in the process. The first stage included the release of an Issues Paper,[41] and the second stage was a Discussion Paper.[42]

1.57 Many valuable submissions to both papers were received.[43] The ALRC also conducted a number of consultations with stakeholders and spoke at public and industry forums and conferences. The ALRC met with media, telecommunications, social media and marketing companies, among other organisations; many expert academic commentators, specialist legal practitioners, and judges; public interest groups; and government agencies, including the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and the Australian Human Rights Commission.[44] The ALRC hosted two roundtables of legal experts, in Sydney and London.

1.58 In addition to the contribution of expertise by way of consultations and submissions, specific expertise is also received by the ALRC from members of its Advisory Committee and the appointment of part-time Commissioners.

1.59 The role of the Advisory Committee is to advise on the coherence and structure of the ALRC process and recommendations; it does not formulate reform recommendations, and members are invited in their individual capacity. They are explicitly asked not to act in any representative capacity.

1.60 The ALRC acknowledges the contribution made by all the part-time Commissioners, Advisory Committee members and expert readers in this Inquiry and expresses gratitude to them for voluntarily providing their time and expertise.[45]

1.61 The Report discharges the tasks given to the ALRC in the Terms of Reference: to design a statutory cause of action for serious invasion of privacy, and to recommend other ways the law might be reformed to deter and redress serious invasions of privacy. The ALRC considers that the recommendations in the Report, if enacted, would fill an increasingly conspicuous gap in Australian law. They would help protect the privacy of Australians, while respecting and reinforcing other fundamental rights and values, including freedom of expression.