Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 11 April 2018) . . Page.. 1305 ..
to give blood. Because of the travel plans of some members of this place, including Mr Steel, or the past travels of people in this place, including Mr Steel, you would need to take a raincheck because of the possibility of contact with malaria. There are many good clinical reasons for those exclusion criteria. But I am not a clinician and I am in no position to make an informed judgment about their bearing on whether people should or should not give blood.
I notice that Mr Steel has said that a Red Cross review of the criteria for blood donations will be brought forward. We hope that will be resolved by the end of the year. That is the best mechanism that we have for dealing with these issues. At the moment the criteria are tried and tested. It is essential that we err on the side of safety. I can understand this: the Red Cross blood service has an impeccable record. They must maintain that record in order that patients who need blood transfusions can trust what they are getting. The last thing that anyone wants is for the patients to receive contaminated blood that makes them even sicker or, worse, kills them.
I do not want anyone to think that I am opposing this just for the sake of it. I am not someone who is closed to the impact of science and medical advancements. I have seen and have benefited from medical advancements myself. I have seen my children benefit from medical advancements. I also have family members who are haemophiliac and who are very dependent upon a reliable blood service. Nevertheless, I am not able to judge the worth of the clinical criteria that Mr Steel refers to but did not really mention in his motion. I am unable to judge the veracity of the clinical exclusion criteria that he did mention.
I also note that Mr Steel has already amended his motion. This casts even more doubt I have on the veracity of some of the information held in that.
I propose that this motion be referred to the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services, of which Mr Steel himself is the chair. My office contacted Mr Steel’s office and Ms Le Couteur’s office early this morning about this proposal. I have heard nothing from them. I presume that the silence means that there is not agreement on this.
This would give the Assembly a chance to explore the issues, take expert advice and evidence, and then possibly even take into consideration the issues raised by the foreshadowed Red Cross review before making recommendations to this Assembly. Writing to the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the commonwealth health minister is a little bit of an exercise in pointlessness if we are not properly informed. It would be a waste of the Assembly’s and the commonwealth’s time. It would give the commonwealth the impression that this is an Assembly that acts on a whim and is impetuous and that it does not take a policy-led and scientific approach to making such decisions.
I am not suggesting that Mr Steel’s motion is any of these things. I am suggesting that this Assembly needs to be better informed on the subject before it makes a decision. Therefore, I recommend the referral of this matter to the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing and Community Services for inquiry and report.