Page 505 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I think I have just very clearly expressed that we are not keeping people in the dark.
MS LEE: Minister, what information was not provided that the public have the right to know?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I do not think there was any information that was not provided. The question that was asked subsequently and that the Canberra Times reported on was: “The minister was asked, ‘Can you say what number of people died in palliative care, please?’”
The conversation with the directorate was then around why it is really difficult to provide that information, a clarification that palliative care is not the same as end of life care, and also that we may not in fact know. Deaths are reported in multiple different ways. Not everyone who dies with COVID-19 dies in hospital. In fact, sometimes it is identified that someone has died with COVID-19 after their death, even as part of the post-mortem process. That data is collected in a very different way. We will not necessarily know the personal circumstances, in that detail, of everyone who dies with COVID-19.
We obviously report when we find out that someone has died with COVID-19, but we will not necessarily have that level of detail to a number that is specific enough, again, for Health Directorate staff to be confident to stand behind a single number. This is really important. Health Directorate officials, when they are providing information to Canberrans, want to be able to ensure that that information is accurate and that that information is not in some way going to mislead Canberrans. That is generally what the conversation is about. That is what many of these emails were about.
ACT Health—COVID-19 data
MR HANSON: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Health Minister. Today the Canberra Times revealed that ACT Health has hidden vital COVID-19 public health information from your office and from Canberrans. How many times in the past has your directorate hidden information from your office, and how many times have they hidden information from the public?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Hanson for the question. I completely reject the premise, and I have already explained why.
MR HANSON: I have a supplementary question. Minister, how many times in the past have your senior officials blocked your requests for information, and why did they do so?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Again, I think I have already answered Mr Hanson’s question, and I reject the assertion that he is making.
MS CASTLEY: What other data has been withheld from you and from the public?