The Liberals are finally moving to clean up their My Health Record mess – by adopting Labor’s proposed changes – but they still need to act and extend the opt-out period.
This has been an absolute debacle and Australians need more time to understand the changes.
These changes have been made with only days left until the opt-out deadline closes.
The Liberals created this mess by shifting from an opt-in system to an opt-out system without making the necessary legislative fixes – and without explaining this fundamental change to the Australian people.
When controversy first erupted in July, the Government insisted there was nothing wrong with the system.
Under intense political and public pressure they eventually put forward a bill that was woefully inadequate.
When Labor called for a comprehensive Senate inquiry into the e-health record scheme – to identify all the potential privacy and security concerns – Minister Hunt dismissed it as a “stunt”.
And when Labor proposed six sensible amendments to restore public trust and confidence in this important health reform, Minister Hunt refused to engage with us.
Labor’s blueprint – announced in October – included tougher penalties for breaches of the act; changes to address concerns around domestic violence and employer access; and better safeguards to prevent the privatisation and commercialisation of the system, including through private health insurer access.
Now – with just a week to go until the end of the opt-out period – Minister Hunt has realised we were right all along and is scrambling to implement our fixes.
We will study the detail of the Government’s amendments in the coming days to make sure they haven’t botched this too.
But Labor also remains concerned about the Government’s timetable.
Because the Government’s exiting legislation will need to be amended, it will need to be sent back to the lower house for approval – and the lower house doesn’t sit again until 10 days after the opt-out period ends.
We once again call on Minister Hunt to heed Labor’s call for a further extension to the opt-out period.
We also call on the Government to commission a Privacy Commissioner review to address outstanding privacy concerns about system settings.
WEDNESDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2018