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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3015 ..

Clause 11

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (2.08 am): Exactly the same thing applies, Mr Speaker; it is consequential.

Clause negatived.

Clause 12

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (2.08 am): Mr Speaker, I will be opposing this clause. This clause is a little different. It is not a consequential one; it is just atrocious. It is atrocious because of the breach of privacy. Private matters of an individual's health will be reported to the Government and potentially exposed to the public. It serves no purpose necessary for the main aim of the Bill and, besides that, we have introduced a series of other systems to ensure appropriate reporting with protection of privacy. Members, particularly pro-life supporters, seem to believe that the clinic cannot be trusted and will abuse the concept of medical emergency to evade the main requirements of the legislation. Mr Speaker, those requirements simply are not necessary.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (2.09 am): Mr Speaker, I am not going to actively vote in favour of retaining this clause, but I will sound a note of warning. Again, I repeat what I have said before. In the past, members have been very suspicious about the way doctors have behaved in some cases and have also been very suspicious about the way in which some doctors have been treated by their peers. I can recall cases where people have been critical of apparently lenient decisions by a medical board and very critical that harsher penalties were not imposed on doctors who engaged in certain abuses of process. The famous case of the doctor X-raying his dog in the Woden Valley Hospital was one case in point.

Mr Speaker, I just indicate that if, for argument's sake, we start to see people in breach of this legislation being given a tap on the wrist by disciplinary processes, I will certainly want to bring this concept back to the Assembly for further consideration; but, for the time being, I am prepared to accept that suspension may not be an appropriate avenue in the absence of any evidence that medical practitioners will be engaged in large-scale abuse of the provisions of the Act and that, in turn, the medical boards or medical profession bodies will not be acting appropriately in those circumstances.

MR BERRY (2.11 am): I do not know why you people cannot get these things sorted out before you bring in this legislation. This is an obvious area where there is no need for legislation. It is as plain as the nose on your face. It is double jeopardy as well. This should have been seen much earlier. Mr Humphries goes on about the suspicion we hold doctors in and that sort of stuff, but we accept that it is the role of professional boards to deal with medical practitioners for a whole range of other medical procedures. For the life of me, I cannot understand why this procedure, so far as the medico is concerned, is any different from the rest. I just cannot understand how it found its way into legislation. Who drafted this provision? Whose idea was it?

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