Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3385..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
I understand that, in part of the debate, I referred to a date being 1 April. For the benefit of Hansard, I need to correct that to 1 August.
In relation to the changes that we have put in place—and these are in place already—the issues that cause concern in the individual's case that we have been talking about this afternoon are about issuing information on the age and the gender of the individual. I can confirm that from now on we will not be confirming the age or the gender of any individual. If it is in ACT Health's responsibility, that is, if the person passed away with a known confirmed case of H1N1 at the point of their death, we will confirm the death only. If it is with the coroner in the case of a post-mortem confirmation of H1N1 or any other communicable disease or illness, the responsibility will rest with the coroner to comment on that.
In relation to balancing the need for public health information, I think we have learnt a lot through this matter. I certainly have. I will not be cautious about refusing to comment, particularly to Canberra Times journalists on any information they have, in the interests of ensuring appropriate safety for individuals and I will weigh that more heavily than the need to provide information to the public in a similar instance, if it is to occur again.
If there are any issues that the Health Protection Service feel need to be articulated publicly in relation to some of the concerns Mr Smyth had about neighbours, friends, work colleagues or the rest of it, that is a matter for the Health Protection Service to handle those matters. But my preference now is that none of that information is made public unless there is a genuine public interest in that information being made public. I will take the Chief Health Officer's advice on those matters.
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (4.46): Firstly, minister, thank you very much for the apology that you have made to the family. I hope that it will mean a great deal to them. I think that was a very genuine and heartfelt apology and I commend you for it. I also thank Mr Smyth for his words and Ms Bresnan for hers and, indeed, the contact that you have had with the family and the way it has been handled.
I hope that our collective words and our actions in the Assembly have gone some way to assuring the family of Mr Johns that this will not happen again, that the mistakes that have been made will be rectified and that, in that regard, in some way, their father's passing has not been in vain. It has obviously been a very difficult issue for the family and it has been a difficult issue, I think, for all of us here today, and I commend my colleagues again for the way that they have dealt with it.
Turning to Ms Gallagher's amendment, I concur with her intent but, in your words, minister, you said that you would not want it to take away from the motion or there may be some risk that it might be considered in that way. I do not think that is your intent in any way. I do not believe that is. But I would not want the risk that, by including those words in a motion, it could be in any way perceived by the family of Mr Johns as doing so. In that regard, I will not be supporting the amendment, for essentially the same reason as Ms Bresnan.
I certainly encourage the minister to address the family's concerns and everything that she has said today gives me assurance that she will. Now that this matter has been