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Monday, 9 May 1994
Page: 446

Senator LEES (Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats) (5.11 p.m.) —As it has been a couple of days since we last dealt with this legislation, I would like to reiterate the position of the Australian Democrats. I believe that these amendments go a long way to undoing the precarious balance struck in this legislation. Senator Newman talks of individual rights, but we are looking at powers to actually investigate a practice. We are not talking about patient records. We are talking about powers to go in and look at the operations of a practice and the particular methods that a particular doctor—for example, a pathologist—is using.

  Senator Newman introduced individual rights, implying that somehow the rights of patients are being trampled upon. I do not believe that can be substantiated. Having spoken to the pathology practice group in particular, the Democrats are concerned that this problem has been well identified. By taking this part out of the legislation and removing these powers, we are at risk of substantially undermining what we are trying to achieve. So I hope that Senator Harradine has been persuaded in the break by the briefings that he has had.