Even Liberal MPs Are Opting Out Of My Health
Labor wants the three-month opt-out period extended.
Liberal MP Tim Wilson is the first to publicly distance himself from the government's controversial My Health records system, as Labor demanded an extension of the opt-out period and a rethink of the launch.
At least 20,000 people opted out of the system in just the first few days, amid fears about privacy, hacking, and sharing of sensitive health information with police or other government departments. Security and privacy experts told ten daily there were "so many risks" with My Health, despite health minister Greg Hunt promising the system was the most secure of its type in the world.
The My Health Records Act 2012 said system operators can legally disclose health information if it is "reasonably necessary" to prevent or investigate crimes, or for "the protection of public revenue" -- but little has been detailed about what circumstances that would apply.
On Monday, Victorian Liberal MP Wilson -- chair of the government’s standing committee on health -- revealed he was among those who had opted out of the system, delivering a subtle rebuke to the process.
“I don’t think it will surprise anybody that my instinctive position should always be as a Liberal that systems should be opt-in and that people should able to freely free to choose to opt in to a system rather than have to go through the process of opting out, and that includes myself,” Wilson told Sky News.
"I have opted out of this system."
He said he was unsure if other Liberal colleagues had opted out, but said he was "resolutely clear" on his opposition to the opt-out system.
Labor has called on the government and Hunt to extend the three month period for Australians to opt out of My Health, and to launch an advertising campaign informing people about how the system works.
"The Government has failed to effectively communicate with the public about what the My Health Record is and the potential benefits it could bring. It has also failed to explain to people how their rights will be respected and their privacy protected," said Labor's shadow health minister, Catherine King.
"This approach has fueled suspicion and skepticism - which could be why tens of thousands of people rushed to opt out in the first week."
King said her party continued to support the My Health system in theory but Labor backbencher Pat Conroy broke ranks over the weekend, claiming the rollout had been "mishandled from the start" and he had "zero confidence" in the system.
"I'm worried about the confidentiality of my data and my constituents' data," Conroy said in an interview on the ABC, adding he would opt out of the system.
"In theory, this is a good system but I think we need to do a lot more before I have any confidence this government can manage this."
Labor's call for a new advertising and information campaign seemed to be supported by Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone. In an interview with the ABC, he said a "wider communication strategy" would have been wise.
Former AMA president Dr Kerryn Phelps also called for reforms to the system, tweeting that access to My Health must be restricted so "no other external agencies" can view sensitive patient information.