Predictably the Federal Government recently passed the Year 2000 Information Disclosure Bill 1999 designed to alleviate a torrent of legal action expected after the onset of the millennium bug.
Minister for the Arts, Information and Technology, Senator Richard Alston believes that the law will counteract a company's inhibitions about disclosing its Year 2000 readiness because of potential legal recriminations.
The "Good Samaritan law" aims to:
- protect a person making a Y2K disclosure statement from civil liability arising from the making of the statement.
- provide that a Y2K disclosure statement will not be admissible against a person who made it- provide that the exchange of Y2K information will not give rise to liability under section 45 of the Trade Practices Act, which prohibits certain anti-competitive contracts, arrangements of understandings.
- offer these protections from the enactment of the legislation until 30 June 2001.
To gain protection from the law the statement must:
- be clearly identified
- be in writing
- relate solely to Y2K processing issues- identify the authorFederal, state and local governments continue to work on their own Y2K problems with a summit held in Adelaide last week between numerous government bodies and some segments of the private sector.
The Federal Government vowed to make the process of attaining Y2K compliance more transparent and focused by introducing the concept of disclosure agency by agency on a monthly basis.
Concerns raised were centred on local government's lack of response to the dire situation and the risk posed by international businesses who have not properly prepared for the contingency of the millennium bug. The forum ultimately decided that state governments would be responsible for their council counterparts and emergency plans were developed to protect the Australian community from external forces. This includes the development of a web site by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading that outlines the general international Y2K situation.