The Senate has today called on the Morrison Government to extend or suspend the opt-out period of the My Health Record.
A motion co-sponsored by Labor Senator Murray Watt passed the Senate on Monday with strong support from the crossbench.
The motion calls on the government to “extend or suspend the opt-out period until the legislation and any amendments are passed, outstanding privacy and security issues are addressed and public confidence in this important reform is restored”.
The My Health Record – originally established by Labor as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record – promises huge benefits to Australians who choose to participate.
But the Government’s opt-out rollout has been a complete debacle. Their botch-job has seriously undermined public trust in this important reform and it’s going to take time to rebuild it.
First, they shifted from Labor’s original 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 they finally realised there was a problem they put forward a woefully inadequate bill that addressed only a fraction of the privacy and security concerns.
Then they sought to kill off Labor’s Senate inquiry into the scheme, with Minister Hunt branding it a “stunt”.
When Labor proposed six sensible amendments to fix the Liberals’ mess the Government refused to engage with us – only to turn around and hastily adopt our rescue plan a month later, just seven days before the opt-out period was due to end.
But what the Government has not done is heed Labor’s call, and a Senate inquiry recommendation, to extend the opt-out period.
Under the Government’s current timetable the opt-out period is due to finish this week.
Once it does, the Government will begin creating records for 17 million Australians – whether they want one or not.
This will occur even though the Government hasn’t actually passed its legislation yet, and cannot pass it before the opt-out period ends. There’s no guarantee the legislation will even pass this year – meaning some Australians may opt out unnecessarily over concerns that are addressed by the legislation.
The Government should listen to Labor and to the Senate and extend the opt-out period.
Labor supports a national digital health record – but we have to get this right.
MONDAY, 12 NOVEMBER 2018