Ruling at odds with reality

PREMIER Barry O'Farrell must move swiftly to end the confusion over the legality of CCTV which has been caused by a ruling from the Administrative Decisions Tribunal that the use of such technology by a council breached an individual's privacy rights.

The almost inexplicable finding against the use of CCTV is certainly out of step with community expectations.

It is strange that such a tribunal has the power to essentially interpret such laws and in doing so, place at risk a significant and worthwhile crime-fighting tool.

The use of CCTV by councils, businesses and law enforcement agencies has been going on for decades, yet one individual who takes exception has turned the entire concept on its head.

The fact that we live in a society where laws are made for the greater good sometimes impinging on the individual's rights is an accepted approach.

While every effort must be made to ensure such technologies are used appropriately, the fact that a few people are uneasy with its use should not rule it out.

Member for Wagga Daryl Maguire came out strongly in support of CCTV, saying he would be doing everything he could to make sure appropriate legislation was framed so that councils could continue to play their part in working with law enforcement agencies to drive down crime.

While the ruling is directly related to the use of CCTV by local government, it has the potential to be expanded into all sorts of areas and must therefore be resolved quickly.

Attorney-General Greg Smith is seeking advice about the tribunal decision and whether or not legislation is required to validate the use of CCTV.

People who are doing nothing wrong have nothing to fear from CCTV.

Our laws are extensive enough to cover the misuse of such images and both private operators and those currently empowered to use the technology generally go to great lengths to ensure privacy matters are addressed.

Perhaps this ruling may provide the impetus for another look at the Privacy Act and whether or not it has gone beyond the boundaries initially intended by parliament.

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