Labor will move in the Senate to delay the opt-out deadline for the My Health Record because the Morrison Government refuses to do so.
We will seek crossbench support to amend the Government’s legislation to extend the opt-out period for a further 12 months – in line with a key recommendation of the recent Senate inquiry.
The Senate this week already voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion calling for a delay but the Government didn’t listen.
This amendment would force the Government to extend.
The My Health Record – originally established by Labor as the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record or PCEHR – promises huge benefits to Australians who choose to participate.
But the Liberals have jeopardised these benefits by shifting 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.
Their botched rollout has seriously undermined public trust in this important reform and it’s going to take time to rebuild it.
While we welcome the fact the Government has adopted Labor’s six other proposals – agreeing to amend its own woefully inadequate bill – it is imperative the opt out period does not end until all privacy and security concerns are fully addressed.
A 12-month extension will give the Government time to commission and implement a Privacy Commissioner review to address outstanding concerns about system settings.
If they don’t do that, a Shorten Labor Government will.
Labor believes the Government’s botched implementation of the opt-out model has resulted in an unreasonable compromise between ensuring the utility of the system and safeguarding the privacy and safety of patients.
That’s why we want a Privacy Commissioner review, which would consider:
• The appropriate balance between utility for clinicians, patients and others such as carers, and privacy and security for individuals;
• The difficulty of ensuring informed consent in an opt-out model, and measures to encourage consumer engagement and informed choice;
• Changes to default access settings that are necessary because of the shift to an opt-out model (from an opt-in model, where informed consent was assured); and
• Particular protections for vulnerable people, including minors aged 14-17 and families fleeing domestic violence.
A 12-month extension will also give the Government time to reach every Australian with its new public information campaign, so that people can make a fully informed choice about whether they want to opt-out of the scheme – or participate in the system and enjoy the benefits of a properly implemented My Health Record.
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 – before outstanding privacy and security concerns are addressed.
This will occur even though the Government hasn’t actually passed its legislation yet, and cannot pass it before the opt-out period ends. 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.
There’s no guarantee the legislation will even pass this year.
The My Health Record opt out period must not end until the clean-up legislation has passed the Parliament.
Labor established the PCEHR and supports a national digital health record – but we have to get this right.
WEDNESDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 2018