Documents relating to a botched planning decision by now-opposition leader Matthew Guy have been taken down from Victoria’s parliamentary website after exposing private citizens’ financial and medical records.
The mother of Hollywood stars Chris and Liam Hemsworth is reportedly one of those caught up in the government’s campaign to undermine Mr Guy, months out from the state election, over the rezoning of Ventnor at Phillip island while he was planning minister in 2011.
Personal details of a lawyer, including her mental health, financial and familial details, were also found among the 80,000 documents released by the Andrews Labor government on Monday.
These were taken down on Thursday and the link to the documents removed from the parliamentary website altogether on Friday.
“Given the volume of documents and the sensitive issues raised, I’ve asked that the online link to documents be taken down this morning until further advice on the motions passed by the House in relation to these documents is considered,” Legislative Assembly Speaker Colin Brooks said in a statement.
“The documents, except those already requested to be removed, remain ‘published’ and available in hard copy at the Parliament as originally advised.”
Former privacy commissioner David Watts has warned the government could face legal action over the saga.
Among those caught up in the privacy breach were Leonie Hemsworth, the mother of Hollywood stars Chris and Liam Hemsworth, the Herald Sun reported.
It’s understood Mrs Hemsworth was a Phillip Island local who opposed the Ventnor decision.
But Premier Daniel Andrews dismissed concerns about legal retribution for document dump.
“There’s been some comments made by the former privacy commissioner and I think the current privacy commissioner has a very different view,” he told reporters on Phillip Island on Friday.
“The current privacy commissioner has been very clear about parliamentary privilege and the absolute nature of parliamentary privilege.”
Mr Andrews again apologised for the debacle, saying “it is regrettable, we are sorry that inadvertently (those) documents were included”.
The data dump related to Mr Guy’s 2011 approval for the rezoning of farmland for housing at Ventnor on Phillip Island.
It sparked a widespread backlash and was quickly reversed, but this prompted a legal battle with the would-be developer, who also had connections to the Liberal Party.
In 2013, that case settled for a then-private sum. But the Ventnor documents revealed taxpayers were slugged $3.5 million to settle after Mr Guy worried for his political career if it went to court.
When asked about the Friday’s move to restrict access to the data dump, Mr Guy said “the whole thing is a disgusting debacle”.
He has threatened his own document drops if the Liberal-Nationals win the November 24 state election.
“But one thing I would never do is release 80,000 pages of material without even having checked it,” the Liberal leader said.
On Thursday, the lower house passed a censure motion against Mr Guy, which demanded he resign and pay back the taxpayer money spent on the Ventnor case.