LETTER TO THE EDITOR
I recently received the card above in the mail, to my home address, from Joshua Burgoyne [the Member for Braitling].
Since I don’t know Joshua, nor have I personally provided him or his office with my name, address or date of birth, I called the number on the card to determine where his office obtained my personal details, and request being removed from their mailing list.
Kim, the woman who answered the phone, informed me the details were obtained via the NT Electoral Roll, to which Joshua has access as an MLA and can legally use for these purposes (… she believes, “because everyone else is doing it.” Her words.)
She also hung up on me, citing poor language, when I described the explanation as “bullshit.”
Which seemed more about palming off a genuine complaint regarding privacy and misuse of information / resources, than any legitimate concern over the linguistic abasement of the preceding conversation.
Thinking this was all a bit suss, I got on the blower to the NT Electoral Commission which informed me that either the information isn’t available on the Electoral Roll, or it is not supposed to be used for this purpose (I don’t quote recall their exact words.)
I was also told to make a formal complaint with the NTEC, which I have.
Anyway, I’m sure I’m not the only person in town that Josh is sending creepy birthday cards to.
And if his office did indeed use Electoral Roll data for illegal purposes (or possibly worse, buying our data to send creepy birthday cards) then it seems like a fun story 🙂
[ED – The Alice Springs News has invited Mr Burgoyne to respond.]
UPDATE August 30:
Just to update, the NTEC since got back to me to clarify their initial advice was incorrect:-
Thank you for your email. Sections 13 and 14 of the NT Electoral Act 2004 provide that MLAs can receive regular extracts from the electoral roll, only for the division (electorate) that they represent.
Only certain sections of enrolment data are to be provided including postal addresses, but not email or phone contacts. There are rules around what they can use this information for (Section 14) and communicating with their constituents would be included under “exercising the MLA’s functions”. There are similar provisions at the federal level.
As the Country Liberal Party are a Federally registered party, the Australian Electoral Commission provides the relevant roll data directly to the party, who then distribute it to their relevant MLA. For those parties only registered in the NT, or any independent MLAs, the NT Electoral Commission provides the relevant roll data.
After Kathy (our casual employee currently with our call centre for the local government elections) spoke to you on the phone, she reported your complaint and asked about the rules regarding roll data and MLAs. She then realised she had given you the wrong information and we apologise for this.
If you do not wish to be contacted in any way by your local MLA, or to provide feedback about receiving the card, you can email the member directly on Joshua.email@example.com.
If you have a complaint about the electorate officer, they are an employee of the Dept. of the Legislative Assembly (DLA), and the best contact is the Director of Business Services who can be emailed at Cameron.Tyrrell@nt.gov.au.
Kind regards, Karen Parker
I guess that “exercising the MLA’s function” is vague enough to give them the freedom to do whatever they want with our data. What joke.