Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 14 Hansard (28 November) . . Page.. 4384..
address those instances where a person dies without having seen a doctor for longer than three months, and yet it is well documented that the person suffered from a potentially life-threatening natural disease which would adequately account for the death.
To ensure that an autopsy occurs only to the extent that is strictly necessary to obtain the information that the coroner requires, the final amendment to the dictionary in the Coroners Act includes a new definition of post-mortem examination. The new definition makes clear that a post-mortem examination can also include other types of examination, other than dissection of the body, such as an external examination, including taking skin or other samples, or a post-mortem examination using a CT or MRI scan. A full autopsy may be required on occasions, but is not always necessary.
The coronial process, and the suggestion that it is necessary for a death to go through a coronial process including an autopsy, can be traumatising and often is disturbing for the families of the deceased. By limiting the deaths that are subject to this invasive process, the impact on families in the community is reduced. Avoiding unnecessary coronial investigation is fundamental to respecting the dignity of deceased persons and minimising the impact on their families at a time when they are very vulnerable.
An amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act further ensures that deaths only undergo investigation for good reason. This amendment will allow a doctor, other than the treating doctor, to issue a cause of death certificate if the doctor is able to form an opinion about the probable cause of death based on information about the deceased person's medical history and the circumstances of the death. This change will prevent a death becoming a matter for coronial investigation simply because a person's usual doctor is on an extended absence from work. This change will maximise the appropriate issue of cause of death certificates to avoid the need for unnecessary, often traumatic, coronial investigations.
These amendments, as a package, will make an important contribution to the valuable work already being done at all levels of the court system to improve processes and streamline operations. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.
Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Amendment Bill 2013
Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.
Title read by Clerk.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (10.49): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.