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Monday, 17 June 1996
Page: 1660

(Question No. 34)

Senator Harradine asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Family Services, upon notice, on 6 May 1996:

(1) Is the Minister aware of the tragic death, in August 1995, of an Adelaide woman who had received human pituitary hormones and was concerned that her name and address had been presented to a Senate Estimates Committee, without the woman's knowledge or authority.

(2) Did the woman ask for an appointment to see the then Minister (Senator Crowley) in her Adelaide office on two occasions to discuss her concerns about the tabling of her name and address; and (b) did the Minister refuse to see the woman; if so, why.

(3)(a) Did the departmental officer responsible for tabling the woman's name and address attend the National Pituitary Hormones Advisory Council meeting in Melbourne, August 1995; if so, did the officer absent herself just before the woman was to address the council about her concerns; and (b) is it a fact that the minutes of the meeting currently fail to record the attendance of the woman.

(4) Will details be provided concerning the woman's death which could be of relevance or could be required by the Coroner in deciding whether an inquest should take place.

Senator Newman —The Minister for Health and Family Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) I have recently been informed of the death referred to by the honourable senator.

(2) I have no knowledge of the actions of the previous Minister for Family Services.

(3)(a) Five Departmental officers were present at the meeting of the National Pituitary Hormones Advisory Council on 14 August 1995. One of these officers was not present during the woman's address to the Council.

(b) The Minutes of the National Pituitary Hormones Advisory Council meeting of 14 August 1995 were endorsed as a true and accurate record of the meeting by all members of the Council present at that meeting.

The attendance of the woman was not included in the Minutes as the concerns raised by the individual in question related to issues of privacy and confidentiality. The letter which the individual had distributed to select members of the National Pituitary Hormones Advisory Council was clearly marked "Strictly Confidential". Given these circumstances and that the minutes of Council meetings are public documents, it was considered by Council members inappropriate to include reference to it in the minutes.

(4) I understand that this matter is currently before the Victorian State Coroner. In these circumstances it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.