Public And Environmental Health Act Regulations

23 Jul 2008 speecharchive

This speech is to move that the regulations under the Public and Environmental Health Act 1987 concerning controlled notifiable diseases, made on 1 May 2008 and laid on the table of this council on 6 May 2008, be disallowed.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (22:22): I move:

That the regulations under the Public and Environmental Health Act 1987 concerning controlled notifiable diseases, made on 1 May 2008 and laid on the table of this council on 6 May 2008, be disallowed.

This motion relates to regulations that have been tabled by the government to include effective surveillance to commence, particularly for influenza, to identify an anticipated seasonal epidemic. Influenza is a notifiable disease in all Australian jurisdictions except South Australia, and 'laboratory-confirmed influenza' is included in the draft national notifiable diseases list of the National Health Security Agreement.

It is also reportable to the World Health Organisation if the case is from a new serotype. Rotavirus is a notifiable disease in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and New South Wales and Tasmania are planning to do likewise. The vaccine has been included in the national immunisation program. Essentially the Liberals believe that notification for early detection of a major public health problem should be supported. However, both the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the AMA are opposed to these regulations.

The AMA has stated that it sees no point in unconfirmed cases being reported because, unless the patients are actually tested, the data is of little value and it is just more paperwork for doctors when it is on suspicion only. The College of General Practitioners has a similar argument and also points out that it could have the impact of creating an overload for the Department of Health. There has been in the past a significant increase in the reporting of salmonella, cryptosporidium, Ross River virus, Q fever, and so on. With the HIV issue, the Stuart McDonald case was badly managed by this government.

In 2006 this government opposed the member for Bragg's private member's bill to make staphylococcal infection a notifiable disease. That virus was responsible for infecting 11 babies last year at the Burnside hospital and its most virulent strain leaves victims on antibiotics for life and in some cases with amputations. We recommend that in this case these regulations be disallowed as being inappropriate and adding to the workload for the health system. Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.