Federal Labor has today locked in a Senate inquiry into the My Health Record to focus on privacy and security concerns, backed by the Greens and crossbenchers.
The inquiry will be held by the Community Affairs Committee and is due to report by October 8.
“We are disappointed the Greens did a dodgy deal with the government to truncate the inquiry, but Labor’s terms of reference remain intact,” Labor’s health spokesperson Catherine King said.
“We’re also surprised the government ended up supporting the inquiry referral despite Greg Hunt yesterday dismissing Labor’s proposal as a ‘stunt’.”
Labor had proposed a longer inquiry to report in mid-November, coinciding with the extended deadline for the health record opt-out period.
The outcome leaves less than two months for submissions to be considered.
Ms King said the inquiry would investigate the adequacy of the system’s log-in procedures and default settings, as well as issues around domestic violence and workers’ compensation that had been raised publicly.
The inquiry would examine the decision to shift from an opt-in system to an opt-out system and whether the government “adequately prepared for this fundamental change”.
It would also look at the adequacy of the government’s public information campaign, and the potential that commercial interests – including health insurers – could be given access to the data.
“The inquiry will review all the laws, regulations and rules that underpin the My Health Record,” Ms King said.
“We encourage everyone with a view on the My Health Record to make a submission to the inquiry.”
Labor believed the electronic record would need a high degree of public support to be successful but it remained “deeply concerned” that the government’s handling of the reform had undermined public trust, she said.
Labor wrapped up negotiations with cross-bench senators on details of the inquiry today, conceding its first choice of a Labor-led committee to lead the probe.
Ms King said the government’s responses to the concerns of doctors’ groups and others – extending the roll-out period by a month and promising a new information campaign – were not enough.
Labor remained of the view that the government should suspend the My Health Record rollout until the full range of concerns was addressed, she said.