6.2.4 Information gathering powers under the CSRC Act
The Registrar has statutory powers to obtain information for the purposes of collecting child support. A court can also use these powers to obtain information if a payee is exercising his or her right to enforce a debt via court proceedings (see 5.4.7).
The Registrar or a court can require a person to:
- provide information (section 120(1)(a)),
- attend and answer questions (section 120(1)(b)), and
- produce documents (section 120(1)(c)).
These powers can only be exercised for the purposes of the CSRC Act.
Example: The Registrar must not use the powers contained in the CSRC Act to obtain information to verify an estimate of income.
A person who is required to attend under section 120(1)(b) (other than a payer, payee, or their representative) is entitled to expenses (CSRC Act section 120(2) and CSRC Regs section 27).
A notice must also be properly served on the person (see 6.7).
A notice must give the person a reasonable time to comply. What is a reasonable time will depend on the type and extent of the information sought.
The Registrar will not collect information that is not necessary for its purposes or intrudes unreasonably on a person's privacy (see information about the Privacy Act 1988 in 6.3.1).
Whilst it can be appropriate for the Registrar to seek information from other departments via informal arrangements, a notice can be issued to another government department. However, there will be instances where secrecy provisions and/or privacy obligations will prevent other departments from disclosing information in the absence of legal authority to do so.
The Registrar may collect and use information from third parties (see 6.3.4).
Obtaining information from residents of reciprocating jurisdictions
The Registrar can request a person who is or was a resident of a reciprocating jurisdiction, or request an overseas authority of a reciprocating jurisdiction, to:
- provide information (section 121A(a)),
- attend and answer questions (section 121A(b)), and
- produce documents (section 121A(c)).
A notice under section 121A can be given to the payee or payer in a reciprocating jurisdiction by giving it to the relevant overseas authority (CSRC Regs section 33).