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Monday, 1 December 2008
Page: 7675

Senator XENOPHON (1:51 PM) —I wish to make some short comments in relation to the issue of vaccination. I know we will be dealing with the more contentious parts of this legislation in relation to veterans entitlements later. On the issue of vaccination, I think it needs to be said that, whilst there is an obvious and clear public benefit from and compelling public health reasons for vaccination, it is also clear that there are some instances—and I emphasise that they are rare—where individuals have sustained an injury as a result of vaccination.

I think we ought to consider what occurs in some other jurisdictions, particularly in Quebec in Canada, where a child injured through vaccination is able to obtain compensation through a no-fault scheme. You need to show a causal link between the vaccination and the injury, and it must be grave and permanent mental or physical damage caused by any vaccine to a child or an adult. This scheme arose after the Lapierre case in Quebec and in response to the general failure of the tort system to compensate victims of immunisation. That was enacted in 1985 in Quebec. This needs to be considered and I think it is inevitable that it will eventually need to be considered in this country. There is an overwhelming public benefit from vaccinations, but I think we may be able to learn from the experiences in Canada, particularly in Quebec, with respect to their compensation system in the very rare cases where there has been an injury that is linked to vaccination.