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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2320

Senator COONEY —by leave-I withdraw Business of the Senate, Notices of Motion Nos 3 and 4, standing in my name for this day of sitting for the disallowance of the Meat (Amendment) Ordinance 1985 and the Blood Donation (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Ordinance 1985. I seek leave to make a short statement.

Leave granted.

Senator COONEY —When the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee scrutinised the Meat (Amendment) Ordinance 1985 it raised with the Minister for Health (Dr Blewett) firstly whether inspectors with powers of entry should compulsorily produce evidence of their identity to the owners of premises they enter. The Minister has explained to the Committee that production merely on request was in keeping with the Australian Capital Territory Health Authority's endeavours to emphasise its inspectors' educative, rather than enforcement, role under the Ordinance. Secondly, the Committee suggested to the Minister that, where evidence of identity was produced on request, it should take the form of a photographic identity card rather than written evidence as is presently the case. It is administrative practice to issue photographic cards and the Minister has undertaken to formalise this practice with an amendment to the Ordinance. The Committee thanks the Minister for his co-operation and advice and pays tribute to him for his willingness to amend the Ordinance to ensure the protection of rights.

When the Committee scrutinised the Blood Donation (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) Ordinance 1985 it raised with the Minister two concerns: Firstly, in a prescribed action against the Red Cross by a person who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion, the Ordinance provided a statutory defence to the Red Cross if, in supplying the relevant blood, it had obtained the appropriate declaration from a blood donor and tested the blood using approved equipment and methods. The Committee considers that the definition of prescribed action in which this defence could be used was so wide that it could have meant the defence was available even where there had been some negligence in the processes and methods of testing and transfusing blood which resulted in a person contracting AIDS. The Minister has agreed to amend the Ordinance and redraft the definition of `prescribed action' to eliminate this possibility. Secondly, the Committee was concerned that, if adequate insurance or a compensation fund was available for the Red Cross, there would be no need to have a statutory defence in the first place.

The Minister has agreed to amend the Ordinance by inserting a sunset clause effective on 31 December 1986. The Committee thanks the Minister for his help in this matter, including his readiness to discuss personally the issues with the Committee during its hearing. The Committee pays tribute to the Minister for his interest in protecting rights in this difficult area. I was unable to give notice of my intention to withdraw these notices of motion because of discussions I was having with the Minister.