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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 844 ..


Hepatitis C

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health and Community Care. In August last year the Chief Minister told the Assembly the Government would introduce amendments to the Blood Donation (Transmittable Diseases) Act to provide access to compensation for people who might have contracted hepatitis C in the ACT from contaminated blood transfusions. Can the Minister say when the Government will introduce the legislation foreshadowed by the Chief Minister to enable access to the compensation package?

MR MOORE: Thank you, Mr Stanhope, for the question. At the time the Chief Minister made that statement it was the Government's intention to introduce legislation to achieve access to compensation. Since that time we have taken legal advice that suggests to us that we do not need to use legislation to achieve the goal. In fact, it would be more effective and fairer to manage it without the introduction of legislation. For that reason we are not intending to introduce legislation to give people access to the hepatitis C lookback program.

Mr Speaker, this question also gives me the opportunity to clarify an answer that I gave yesterday. The day before yesterday I tabled in the Assembly a response which included a table of figures. Mr Berry yesterday asked me to clarify the figures, and I indicated to the Assembly that I would try to bring back clarification. In fact, the figures are quite complex. Late yesterday afternoon, when I spoke to Department of Health officers, they indicated to me that they still felt they did not have a clear way of presenting those figures and that they would like more time. I said that I would be happy to table them today. I table another table to clarify the figures.

The table that you saw showed that 62 people were deceased. It is very difficult for us to work out where the figure of 62 came from. The officer who prepared the table is away sick at the moment. It is probably true that more than 62 people are deceased, but it is appropriate for us to work on people we know about, people we have identified, so we have divided the issue into a number of tables. I will be happy to get any member a briefing on these, because they are quite complex.

We have two groups of people. There are those in the lookback program who were recipient triggered. In other words, we went and found them because somebody had identified that they had received some of the blood. Then in a separate group are donor-matched cases. We then look at our total cases. The total of cases that we have identified that we need to deal with is 115. The number of people who are alive, who are still working, is 64, and the number of deceased people is 51.

We then look at the particular periods. In the period from 1985 to 1990, which is the compensable period, there were the 13 people I commented on before. They were recipient triggered. Of those who are donor-matched cases, 32 have died and 18 are still alive. We still have these groups of people that we are dealing with. Then we have

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