Page 3155 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015

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Executive members business—precedence

Ordered that executive members business be called on.

Health (Patient Privacy) Amendment Bill 2015

Mr Rattenbury, by leave, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.15): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Today I am pleased to be tabling the ACT Greens Health (Patient Privacy) Amendment Bill 2015 and the accompanying explanatory statement for the Assembly’s interest. The bill defines a specific area, called a privacy zone, around an approved medical facility within which protests and other public displays regarding abortion will be prohibited, alongside provisions relating to capturing visual data. The bill aims to prevent certain actions within a defined area and defined times around relevant declared medical facilities. The actions this bill is seeking to prevent could act to increase emotional distress or, in a worst case scenario, prevent women from accessing a legal medical procedure.

This bill does not seek to engage in debate regarding a woman’s right to access abortion services. Safe and medically supervised abortions were made legal by the ACT Legislative Assembly many years ago. This bill is rather about a woman’s right to access those services with privacy and free from the intimidating conduct of others.

In August I tabled an exposure draft bill that has informed today’s final bill, and this consultation period has enabled me to hear from many people about their views since then. I am pleased to say the majority of the feedback I have received on this important issue has been positive or offering constructive criticism or both. I thank those people and organisations who gave this feedback.

I have, of course, also received correspondence from some in the community who do not agree with the ACT Greens’ position on ensuring women can access medical services without intimidation, and I appreciate that, for the most part, this type of feedback has at least been civil, unlike some of the letters we have seen printed in the Canberra Times.

The majority of the constructive feedback regarding the various provisions of the exposure draft bill related to sections dealing with the capturing of visual data. This is a particularly vexed issue in and around similar health services in other jurisdictions and an area which I was keen to ensure got the balance right, as it were. To that end,

I have made amendments to the relevant sections which I believe take on board the comments received from individuals as well as organisations such as the Human Rights Commission and local media.

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