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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 August 2008) . . Page.. 3334 ..

Gas-fired power station

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health. As health minister, what input have you had into drafting the terms of reference for the Tuggeranong power station and data centre EIS to protect the health of nearby residents?

MS GALLAGHER: Mr Speaker, as you would know, the terms of reference for that health impact statement are still in place, and that work is being done. I have also seen a copy of the terms of reference for the EIS, and I thought they covered off the health aspects most adequately.

MR SPEAKER: Is there a supplementary question?

MRS BURKE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, what input have you had as a shareholder in Actew into the EIS to protect the shareholder value?

MS GALLAGHER: A member of the consortium is ActewAGL, of which I am not a shareholder, Mrs Burke. As the Minister for Health, and in discussions or information passed to me by the Minister for Planning, I have certainly seen the scope of the EIS. As I said, it is most comprehensive and addresses all the issues that were raised by the independent planning authority most adequately.

Health—private medical records

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, on 28 July you announced the government’s intention to introduce a health card containing individual medical records to all ACT residents. What undertakings can you give the people of Canberra that private medical records will not be jeopardised by the introduction of the card and the associated database containing confidential information?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Mulcahy for the question. The question goes to the technology that is going to progressively be introduced around developments in e-health.

It is most interesting that you ask this question today. On Monday, I was fortunate enough to meet with the Danish minister for health. I think everyone is aware that the Europeans probably lead the way in the implementation of e-health technology. Denmark, he informed me at that meeting, has had a unique patient identifier—which is the trigger you go to before you move to an electronic health record, particularly a card that would detail all that information—since 1968. So they are 40 years more advanced than we are.

We are just getting to the point where the unique patient identifier will progress. Once that is in place, it will enable a whole range of technology to flow from that. One of the opportunities here, in a jurisdiction our size, is to enable others—with very strict safeguards; those safeguards are that the patient or the person himself or herself has to give specific authority or permission—to view their health records. That would be one of the first safeguards.

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