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Thursday, 24 June 2010
Page: 4428

Senator LUDWIG (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) (6:36 PM) —I am advised that it would increase the administrative burden to agree to the Australian Greens amendment for healthcare providers because they would need to maintain parallel systems depending on whether or not patients have individual health identifiers. Again, it would reduce the benefits of replacing the existing multiple and overlapping identity systems with a unified system which would reduce administrative costs and the potential for mistakes.

I understand where the Australian Greens are coming from. They are seeking to have a system which is workable but provides for an opt-out model. But it is important to remember that, while the bill provides health care for all Australians, it in no way compels Australians to use or have an electronic health record. If the unique healthcare identifier system is to be workable, it is essential that Australians can be assured that their identity cannot be confused with someone else’s. On that basis, although I do understand the Greens’ interest in this, we do not support the amendment. But I thought it was important to put that on the record for the Greens.