Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 November 2021) . . Page.. 3875 ..
If it reveals a deficiency in process, that will need to be corrected. There are always improvements to be considered where circumstances of concern like this arise.
I will say, though, that I do not believe this is a regular occurrence in the ACT government, and there is a strong commitment to privacy protection. I have already said that we have good and professional public officials whose job it is to protect this information, and I think they are very committed and they work hard to do that job. The government has made very clear its commitment to taking the privacy of the community seriously, and those are the officials charged with that responsibility.
Finally, I note the additional part in Minister Steel’s amendment that calls on members of the ACT Assembly to declare whether they or their offices have accessed a copy of the spreadsheet in question and on what dates they did so and to take steps to ensure that any copies of the spreadsheet held by MLA offices are deleted. I can deal with that issue now on behalf of the Greens and inform the Assembly that there are no members of the Greens or their offices that have accessed this data.
Having made that clarification, I will indicate, as I said earlier, that the Greens intend to support Minister Steel’s amendment, which provides a range of factual information and particularly notes that the minister has referred this matter to the Australian Information Commissioner, and we support that referral.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (3.49): I just want to speak very briefly on Ms Lee’s motion and in support of Mr Steel’s amendment. I speak both as health minister and as the minister who was responsible for both workplace safety and industrial relations and also procurement. If memory serves me correctly, I already had the procurement portfolio in 2018, when this request for tender was initially issued.
I can assure those opposite that, contrary to their rhetoric, this is a matter that we do take very seriously. It is clear that Mr Steel took this matter very seriously as soon as it was reported and that an internal investigation was immediately called for. As Mr Rattenbury has indicated, that was absolutely appropriate as a first step to identify what this information was, how it was released and what should be done next. This is absolutely standard practice to understand what then needs to be referred to external agencies.
I can clarify for Mrs Jones that I have also sought advice from the ACT Health Directorate on whether, in their view, this information constitutes health records for the purposes of the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act, and I am advised that, based on the fields provided, these records would not be considered health records and, as such, are not governed by the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act.
The Health Directorate has held discussions with the Director of Clinical Records in Canberra Health Services, with the Territory Records Office, with the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate and internally within the Health Directorate to provide that advice to me.