Monday, 12 November 2018
My Health Record
I, and also on behalf of Senator Watt, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) members of the community have expressed significant concerns about the inadequate privacy and security provisions currently present in the My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018 (the bill),
(ii) senators will not have an opportunity to debate the bill until the week beginning 12 November 2018,
(iii) the opt-out period for the My Health Record is currently scheduled to end in the same week, on 15 November 2018, and
(iv) the Federal Government has extended the opt-out period once before, supposedly to allow passage of the bill;
(b) expresses disappointment that the Federal Government has chosen to not follow through on their commitment to the Australian people to strengthen the legislation which governs the My Health Record, meaning that any choices that the Australian people make about opting out will not be sufficiently informed; and
(c) calls on the Federal Government to extend or suspend the opt-out period until the legislation and any amendments are passed, outstanding privacy and security concerns are addressed, and public confidence in this important reform is restored.
On 7 November Minister Hunt announced that the government will introduce further legislative amendments to ensure the safety and privacy of health information in the My Health Record system, including provisions to protect people against domestic violence and tougher penalties for those who misuse the system. These will be voted upon in the Senate this week. Those who wish to delete their records after the 15 November opt-out date can do so at any time throughout their lives and their record will be deleted forever. The legislation to enable My Health Record to become an opt-out system passed the parliament unanimously in 2015.
The Greens initiated a Senate inquiry into the My Health Record because we listened to the concerns not just of the medical community, the IT community and privacy advocates but of the Australian community. They made it very clear that they hold huge concerns about the rollout of the My Health Record. Now is the appropriate time to press pause and to extend the opt-out period for a further 12 months. If we proceed as is planned, every single Australian will have a record created for them on the 15th of this month, in a few days time. We're going to press ahead with that when significant changes are yet to be made to the legislation that has already been identified as creating enormous concerns around people's privacy. The government flagged that they are going to introduce amendments. Those amendments have not yet passed and yet every Australian will have a record created for them in several days time.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
I just want to put on the record that this also comes out of a Labor initiated inquiry and this is a co-sponsored motion by the Labor Party. Labor have, from the very beginning, indicated our concern that the opt-out period is not long enough to deal with the many concerns that members of the public have. We put forward amendments in our inquiry report, which the government has fortunately and finally listened to, but it is still our view that the opt-out period needs to be extended and that's why we are supporting this motion.