New legislation

The framework sets a new direction for how public sector data in Australia is used and reused. To unlock the potential of this data, we are building on the Government’s response to the recommendations made by the Productivity Commission’s Data Availability and Use Inquiry.

As part of getting these reforms right, we have engaged widely and consulted on an Issues Paper in July-August last year, followed by a Discussion Paper in September-October 2019.

We are taking this feedback on board and, to send a strong signal about our commitment to do so, we will progress the data reform legislation, previously known as the Data Sharing and Release legislation as the data availability and transparency legislation. When the legislation passes Parliament, it will be known as the Data Availability and Transparency Act (DATA).

New legislation will:

  • provide government agencies (Data Custodians) with an alternative authorisation to share public sector data to accredited entities such as government agencies, State and Territory authorities, and non-government entities such as universities
  • take a principles-based approach to safeguarding the sharing of public sector data
  • empower the National Data Commissioner to develop requirements and guidance to support government agencies and Data Sharing Entities
  • establish clear governance arrangements, including enforcement and accountability mechanisms.

Importantly, the legislation will be principles-based to allow flexibility in its interpretation to ensure it can constantly adapt to new technologies and community expectations around data sharing. The National Data Commissioner has a significant role in driving the reforms by providing practical guidance and advice as the system is rolled out and matures.

The legislation provides an alternative avenue for government to share data where it is currently not possible or practical to do so, so long as safeguards are met. The legislation will not compel data sharing and will allow agencies to continue to use existing avenues to share when preferred.

Scope

The legislation is intended to have broad scope, applying broadly to all public sector data collected or generated by Commonwealth entities.

Sharing will not be allowed for compliance, national security or law enforcement purposes under this legislation.

This includes investigations, monitoring and taking action targeted at individuals and organisations to keep Australia safe.

The initial focus of the legislation will be on sharing of Commonwealth data. However, the legislation will allow for participation by State and Territory agencies so that we can move towards a consistent national data system over time.

The legislation will be drafted with an awareness of (and to potentially allow interoperability with) existing data sharing regimes in New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria, as well as emerging regimes in other States and Territories. Much can also be achieved through adopting consistent practices across jurisdictions to allow safe sharing of data.

The National Data Commissioner will collaborate with other agencies and regulators to ensure consistent approaches to data sharing across departments and all levels of government. 

Training materials will be made available before the legislation comes into effect.

More information

If you have any questions about how this legislation might affect your organisation, or change the way you access data for your work, please contact us.