Date published: 
15 November 2018
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

KARL STEFANOVIC:

The deadline to opt out of the My Health Record has been extended amid mounting pressure on the Government and a system crash. Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us now. Good morning Greg.

GREG HUNT:

Good morning, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, you previously ruled out extending the deadline for people to opt out, why have you reneged?

GREG HUNT:

Well, yesterday what happened is that the Senate crossbench rejected a Labor motion that would have denied the greater protections for privacy and denied the greater criminal sanctions but agreed with us to work on extending the deadline.

That’s to give people more time and I’m happy to do that. This system has been a decade and a half in the making. And ultimately at the end of the day people can opt out at any time during their lives.

That’s one of the things which may not have been fully understand or opt in at any time during their lives. This simply means that the date at which a record is created won’t be commenced for the general population until 31 January, but above all else it’s about saving lives and protecting lives.

Two-hundred-thousand Australians who are admitted to hospital every year for misuse of medication and this will go towards protecting people when they need it in emergencies and helping them with their medicines.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Were you taken by surprise yesterday by how many people obviously logged on and tried to opt out?

GREG HUNT:

No, I thought that when people felt there was a deadline that there would be a final moment. But I actually want to correct that because there’s no single deadline, people can opt in or opt out at any time during their lives. It’s totally their choice.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

How many people have opted out?

GREG HUNT:

for the first time people having access. All up it’s about 4 per cent of the population. We’re expecting 10 per cent so it’s at this point less than half of what we were expecting, which is very, very heartening.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

And how many have responded in total?

GREG HUNT:

When you mean responded, I apologise?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, so 4 per cent of how many?

GREG HUNT:

Four per cent of the Australian population. So just over 1.1 million.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

How many have either opted in or out? Sorry, I’m just trying to get the stats going.

GREG HUNT:

Oh okay. So there are well over six million Australians that have established records and then what will happen is that records will be created for the Australian population as of 31 January, but these are their own health records which until now they’ve been denied.

So if you’re a mum you’ll be able to have access to the vaccination records for your children. If you’ve got older parents and you don’t know what medicines that they’ve been on and they’re in an extreme moment in a hospital, the emergency department will be able to protect them and ensure that they’re not taking something for which they have an allergy such as penicillin.

So, it’s common sense, it’s something which six million Australians have adopted and this will for the first time give all of Australia access to their own medical records which should be a basic right in this day and age.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You’ve said that until you’re blue in the face, over and over and over and over again over the last couple of months, but obviously some people aren’t getting the message. Is it safe or not?

GREG HUNT:

Yes, absolutely. And we’ve gone for six years and with six million people who are on the system and the Digital Health Agency’s absolutely clear that there’ve been no security breaches and so what that says is that this is safer than the record at the general practice.

It’s absolutely safer than the record which might be at the pharmacy. And above all else though, it means for the first time you can access your own record and in the case of an emergency they can potentially save your life. But again, every Australian has the choice and they have that choice throughout their lives.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

The SMH carries a story today under Freedom of Information Act. They’ve got some information on Jim Birch. Was the board in any way compromised?

GREG HUNT:

No. In fact they have the Register of Interests and he had declared his position on the Register of Interests for a company which has no commercial relationship.

So not only was there no relationship, this is actually from the Register of Interests but it’s not very clear in the article that they’ve been given the Register of Interests.

So, he’s declared something for which there’s no commercial relationship with the Government and it’s actually on the register which is precisely what any board member should do.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, cleared that one up. Thank you for very much for your time today.

The 500 kilometre walk for autism too. It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing and we’ll touch base with you in the next few days as well. Good on you Greg, thank you.

GREG HUNT:

We’ll finish in two more days.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Good on you my man, we’ll talk to you at the end of it.