The Morrison Government has been dragged kicking and screaming into accepting an extension to the My Health Record opt-out period.
For months, Labor has been calling for an extension in order to get this important reform right. For months, the Liberals have been insisting there was no need for an extension.
But in the Senate on Wednesday the Government quietly capitulated and accepted a two-and-a-half month extension.
It’s extraordinary that Labor had to force the Government’s hand by introducing legislation to make this happen.
Minister Hunt could have implemented an extension with the stroke of a pen weeks ago.
Labor expects Minister Hunt will now act to keep the opt-out period open, in line with the wishes of the Senate – even though the lower house cannot sign off on the change for two weeks.
Anything else would be scandalous.
While Labor would have preferred a 12-month extension to allow time to address outstanding issues and rebuild community trust, we are pleased with the Senate’s decision.
The opt-out period will now end on January 31, 2019, instead of tomorrow. This is a win for common sense and for all Australians.
This will give Federal Parliament the time it needs to pass extra protections and safeguards. It was absurd that the Government wanted to push on with its original timeline before this legislation had passed.
This delay will also give the Government time to address some of the other outstanding privacy issues, particularly around minors, default settings and automatic uploads. The Government should heed Labor’s call for a Privacy Commissioner review to help do so.
It will also give the Government more time to roll out its public information campaign so that every Australian can make a more informed choice about whether to opt out – or stay in and enjoy the benefits of the system.
Finally, it will give the people who have not been able to opt out today – because the system has crashed under the enormous weight of demand – more time to do so.
The My Health Record is an important reform and promises many benefits to patients and clinicians. But it’s important to get it right.
The Government’s implementation of the My Health Record has been a complete debacle from day one.
Hopefully with this further delay they can finally get it right.
WEDNESDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 2018