Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5000..
Debate resumed from 13 November 1997, on motion by Mrs Carnell:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR BERRY (Leader of the Opposition) (8.02): Labor will be supporting the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Bill. It is a Bill which will be welcomed by most quarters of the community and will assist in the provision of health care in the community. There have been some reservations raised in respect of the Bill by the Scrutiny of Bills Committee and those reservations have been responded to by the Government. The Government's response is rather typical of its response to committees in the Assembly. It seems to wipe all of the suggestions which have been made as if it were an affront for anybody to criticise anything that the Government has done. Well, that seems to be quite common.
Mrs Carnell: We are happy not to deal with the Bill if you would rather not deal with it.
MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I see that Mrs Carnell has circulated a couple of amendments to the Bill. They are amendments which seem to sort out some omissions in the language in the Bill and need no further comment from me. They relate to machinery matters which do not go to the policy issues in the Bill, and they will be supported.
For a long time there have been concerns about access to records in the community. One of the issues which have been raised as a concern is the breadth of coverage of the legislation. I think there is a provision to allow the Minister to strike out certain health services from coverage of the Bill. It will be interesting to see whether that, in fact, is called upon. I think it is presumed that there may not be many instances where that will occur.
Mr Speaker, I think this Bill will be welcomed in the community. When you look at it you wonder why it has not been around for a long time. I think it boils down to the fact that nobody has ever got around to it. The issue, of course, is a big one. Many practitioners would feel it was an impingement on their rights in the first place if they were not consulted adequately. It appears on the face of it that it will receive broad acceptance and, therefore, it will be supported by the Labor Party.
MR MOORE (8.05): I support this Bill and I have to say congratulations to the Chief Minister and Minister for Health. This is indeed a fantastic achievement. I think anybody who looks at this legislation recognises its landmark nature and what has been managed by this Minister for Health on this issue. Mr Speaker, this is an interesting piece of legislation. I cannot think of any other piece of legislation that sets out principles in the way this piece of legislation does. Part II, Privacy Provisions, contains a series of principles. I think it is quite interesting reading. It is very easily read, unlike a great number of other pieces of legislation, particularly for such a complex area.