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Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Page: 8090

Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (12:23): We understand that, from tomorrow, not everyone is going to have their record created. It won't happen automatically. There will be a period of time over which those records will be created. It might take a month or two. But that's not the point. Again, I will put my own personal view on this very clearly. I have worked as a medical practitioner and I understand the benefits of coordinating this information in a way that you can access people's medication record so that you do not prescribe a medication where you might have a drug interaction and cause a complication. I understand all of that and come at it from the perspective of wanting this to work. My concern—and it's a really serious concern—is that, having seen this rollout over a period of months, there have been a range of very significant problems associated with the rollout. We've had conflicting information. We're here trying to address a number of the concerns that were raised in the Senate inquiry process because these issues have been identified.

When I talk to my colleagues in the medical community, many of them have chosen to opt out. When you're getting doctors choosing to opt out, that says something to me—not to mention to the many members of the Australian community who know about this and are concerned enough to opt out. The fact that so many records are anticipated to be created is more a function of people not knowing the deadlines and understanding that this process is underway.

My concern is we're at a point that has the potential to derail this. We may end up with no health record if we proceed in the way that we are. We have a year to roll out this reform with a thorough and exhaustive education campaign. People need to understand the settings they have control over and be given the information they need to adjust those settings, rather than simply ending up with a whole lot of records created by default. People who haven't been following this closely—and it is a very technical debate—could find they have a record created that they don't want created. They could find themselves in a situation with complexities, that can't be anticipated, emerging as a result of the rush to have everybody on an electronic health record by default.

I accept your point that not everyone will have a record created from tomorrow and that it may be a month or two away, and that people will have the opportunity to go in and delete their record. It will be a permanent deletion, thanks to an amendment we proposed that the government has adopted. But that's likely to be after the fact, after something's occurred that has created a problem for someone, and will, potentially, undermine confidence in the system. That's what we need to avoid if this reform is to be a success. I just think it's prudent. That's why we will support this amendment.

The CHAIR: The question is that amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 8556 moved together, by leave, by Senator Polley, be agreed to.