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Community, Health, Human Services And Related Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 - Second Reading
Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Greens
to support the Community, Health and Related Services Legislation (
Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018. I would like some clarification
around the change to terminology within the Mental Health Act 2013. The
fact sheet does not provide any information about the purpose for that
change. I can assume that it may relate to the accuracy, or rather the
inaccuracy, of the existing terminology, where the term 'continuing care
order' is used and is now proposed to be replaced with the term 'treatment
order'. I would like to understand the reason for that change. I do not
have any problem with it and I assume it has been supported by the
stakeholders, but perhaps the minister could provide me with some
information about who raised that as an issue that needed to be changed
and whether there was any discussion or disagreement or controversy about
the basis for that change.
I have some more substantive questions in relation to the amendments
proposed to the Pharmacy Control Act. This seems to be a very important
change. I would also like a bit more information about exactly what it
provides. Not being of legal training myself, I want to understand the
motivation for this change. I assume it relates to ensuring quality of
service provision within companies that apply to be credited as a pharmacy
business and to ensure that the agglomeration of business interests that
is occurring more and more under the current global economic environment
does not lead at some point to a dilution of quality in the people
involved in pharmacy businesses and essentially that these do not just
become shelf companies running pharmacies without the appropriate
qualifications and the duty of care as professionals to put the interests
of the community, the consumers, first above business interests.
Also in relation to that section of the bill, I note there are some
changes that enable regulations to be developed to regulate pharmacy
depots, so it is again tightening up on the regulations for those pharmacy
depots. Could the minister please clarify whether a pharmacy depot could
be a supermarket? The second reading speech said 'a general retail shop
in geographic areas without a pharmacy'. As I read the act, pharmacy
depots are places without a pharmacy where prescriptions can be deposited.
We are not talking here about making any changes to the dispensing of non-
prescription medications. It is this delicate balance that we have,
particularly in regional areas and remote areas, of making sure we do not
change the conditions so that big pharmacy suppliers cannot come in and
take over the space accredited pharmacists provide as a service to their
local community. I would like the minister to discuss what a pharmacy
depot is, but otherwise that sounds like a very sensible move.
With respect to the changes to the Right to Information Act, I have
listened to the member for Franklin, Ms Standen's comments and she raised
reasonable questions. The Greens do not believe the points that have been
raised by Labor are enough to outweigh the recommendations of two
independent Commissioners for Children and Young People. Mr Mark
Morrissey, in July last year, recommended that the Commissioner for
Children and Young People be excluded from the Right to Information Act.
That was supported by the acting commissioner, Mr Clements, in December.
We respect the concerns. There are reasonable questions about why this
Government has been so laggardly on amending that part of the Right to
Information Act. In government the Liberals have been as tardy and
obfuscating as possible about the application of the right to information.
This Government is totally obstructive and will do everything it possibly
can to hold on to information and not reveal it to the public. We are
talking about the part of the Right to Information Act that deals with the
decisions of ministers and delegates to not be reviewed. That is a
fundamental breach of the spirit of right to information. Liberal
ministers delegate certain decisions to senior staff so they are not able
to be reviewed under the Right to Information Act by the Ombudsman. This
is a recognised loophole in the Right to Information Act 2009 confirmed by
the Ombudsman in a response to a question which we wrote to the Ombudsman
earlier this year. The Liberals choose to not amend that loophole.
The Greens introduced a bill on 15 March this year and the Liberals voted
against plugging that loophole. It was a public display of self-interest
to make sure the secretive processes which underpin the actions of the
Coordinator-General's office, underpin the sale of Crown land to private
interests around Tasmania, underpin the abuse of the tourism proposals and
the sham that is going through at the moment around Lake Malbena and the
corrupted processes with that approval. All these things are hidden as
much as possible from public eyes.
An example last week was the Minister for Primary Industries refusing to
release a joint letter from two members of the Marine Farming Planning
Review Panel, their letter of resignation and their letter with reasons
Madam SPEAKER - I am sorry, Dr Woodruff, I have been advised you are
straying off the subject matter.
Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Speaker. The reason I am providing these
examples is because it needs to be on the public record that the minister,
in bringing forward this bill, has not made the most important change to
the Right to Information Act, that the ministers' delegates must be able
to have their decisions reviewed by the Ombudsman. The Right to
Information Act does not provide the transparency it ought to because of a
loophole in the Act.
I understand Labor's concerns about providing an exemption for the
Commissioner for Children and Young People and their question why? Why
focus on this now? Why not focus on the real abuse of the Right to
Information Act, which this Government practises every day by keeping
essential information away from Tasmanians to make sure that the interests
of big business are met. The interests of the public, the community whose
land it is, whose marine system it is, whose wilderness areas it is, whose
nature and recreation areas like the top of Rosny Hill it is are not met.
Ministers repeatedly delegate decisions to senior staff so they never have
to be reviewed, so there is no paper trail, so there is no possibility for
legal review or challenge, so there is no way people can really understand
how much money is being siphoned out under Liberal ministers to private
I look forward to the minister's response for why he did not plug the
loophole in this bill. It is an obvious opportunity for this
miscellaneous amendments bill. It should have been done. The Liberal
Government will not increase accountability and transparency for the
Tasmanian people unless there is a major rupture in what is happening on
that side of the House. We may well see that happen today.