Saturday 17 December 2005 12:50 AM

A year or so ago, the state government commendably introduced legislation restricting telemarketing activity. It is time to take this further to severely restrict, or even ban this invasive practice. Private citizens are tired of our leisure time being invaded by a steady stream of local and off-shore call-centre staff, offering mortgage refinancing, investment packages, "free" mobile phones, home improvements, and holidays. The Christmas retail season makes it a frenzy. There is something perversely irrational, at times downright bizarre, about what "privacy" has become. For privacy's sake, I can't deal with a bank, government department, medical practitioner or educational institution, on behalf of a member of my own family who lives with me. Their own written authority may or may not make a difference. Privacy means a person with a mental illness can make unchallengeable decisions to their own detriment. Yet a person I don't know can make an unwanted call to my home to offer me a product or service I don't want and haven't asked for, with the full blessing of the state. Something is wrong somewhere.