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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Page: 8089


Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (12:19): We won't be supporting the amendment. I commend the last speaker, the leader of the Greens. At least the multipartisan approach is the right approach to this, not some of the approaches we have in this place. There have been concerns that, by delaying this 12 months, the process of the opt-in and then the cancellation will leave somebody high and dry. Let's just deal with that element of it. Whatever date you pick—let's say it's in a year's time—there is going to have to be a translation from where you can opt out physically and how a record is created. Just for clarity: up until tomorrow, there will be an opt-out process. There has been an opt-out process for four months. The opt-out process, as I indicated, had unanimous support here in 2015. I'm not saying the circumstances were identical, but that was the case. After whatever time on Thursday it is that you can no longer opt out, you can still cancel. Between that date and whatever date the finalisation of the records is, which is about mid-December, the fact that you have cancelled means that no record would be created. No record would be created until that date. So even if you haven't opted out and there is a record created, at any time after that absolute moment that you have a record created you can cancel and the record will be completely expunged. That's just for clarity around this transformation. I think people should rightly have concern about what happens during this period: 'Can we opt out or opt in?' There's an opt-out period. After that opt-out period, there is a period between tomorrow and mid-December under which there has to be a reconciliation of records and the record is created. At any time, if you say, 'I wish to cancel my record,' no record would be created. If it's post that date and you cancel your record, that record would be cancelled and expunged. That's just for clarity.

There have been some issues around the privacy settings. This is being considered concurrently. I take the point made by the leader of the Greens: we need to ensure that we don't pass part of this legislation and still not have the privacy provisions providing that protection. That's why we are considering those matters concurrently. We believe that these privacy settings are the right settings. The Privacy Commissioner oversees the Digital Health Agency. It's also his role specifically now, as Privacy Commissioner, to oversee those processes. We think there has been sufficient work done not to delay for a 12-month period, and we won't be supporting the amendment.