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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 2 Hansard (24 February) . . Page.. 593..


MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, do you acknowledge that there is an urgent need for a child death review mechanism in the ACT?

MS BURCH: I think we have a system in place. We engage with experts on a case-by-case basis. We will do that until advice comes out of the joint review that, indeed, we need to reconsider our current position.

Health—abortion advice

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, yesterday, in answering a question relating to the Canberra mother who was allegedly pressured to have an abortion by the Canberra Hospital, you said that you were unable to answer questions on the issue due to it being pursued through legal avenues. However, according to reports in today's Canberra Times, the lawyer representing the patient has advised that there have been no legal proceedings issued. What exactly is the legal avenue being pursued that is stopping you from answering questions? Who advised you not to answer questions?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hanson for the question. This question is not unexpected from a lazy opposition that only manage to identify their campaigns through the pages of the Canberra Times. I would encourage members to try and reflect and recall one single campaign the Liberals have run that has not appeared in the Canberra Times prior to them being interested in it. It is no surprise—I know Mr Smyth will enjoy this answer—that I was advised by my department—

Mr Smyth: I will enjoy it.

MS GALLAGHER: Aside from the issues about the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act, which restrain me anyway from discussing individual clinical matters about any patient, I was advised by my department and in a discussion I had with the Government Solicitor. I have checked that, because I was surprised—although maybe I wasn't surprised that someone, a barrister, pursuing a case against the government, or intending to, was encouraging me to be rather open and frank in this forum. That was not that much of a surprise. But I have been advised again that notices have been served by the claimants under the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act, which enlivens a process for the claimants and the territory to exchange information about the claim as a necessary preliminary to commencing legal proceedings if the matter is not otherwise resolved. It was on that advice that I made those comments yesterday.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary question?

MR HANSON: Minister, why is information regarding when you knew of the incident legally sensitive?

MS GALLAGHER: As I said yesterday, I am not going to talk about information relating to this case, for the reasons I have outlined. I am unable to do so under the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act.

Mr Seselja: When you knew is not covered by that. You know that's not true.


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