Attorney-General to question AAT President over decision to release all of Senator’s private medical records to media

JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has taken the National President of the Peace Makers and Peace Keepers Veterans Association (APPVA) Alan Thomas, to visit the Attorney-General in order to discuss a decision made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) - which set a legal precedent that will allow Australian media access to all the private medical records of veterans, who appear before the AAT.

“Last year a Major General still serving in our Army, and also employed as a Commissioner at the AAT, made an extraordinary decision that gave a journalist employed by the Australian newspaper, full access to all my private medical records.  Major General allows journalist to access Senator’s private medical records, is a 100% truthful headline,” said Senator Lambie.

“Not only did Major General Melick make a decision that allowed the media access to my private medical records, directly used by the AAT to make a ruling in my favor years ago – the decision also allowed the journalist access to all my private medical records indirectly attached to the documents used to make an AAT decision.

“And this astonishing breach of my privacy didn’t stop there.  The Major General’s decision also allowed the media access to private letters from my solicitor, which of course are normally covered under client privilege,” said Senator Lambie.

“If the journalist had tried through Freedom of Information legislation, to access these highly private and privileged medico-legal information (which also involved close family members) – he would have naturally been denied access.

“But a loophole in the AAT legislation (section 35 – 3) has allowed the journalist, without any cost, to access all of my most private medical and legal documents.  I called the meeting with the Attorney-General to make sure that he was aware of this outrageous legal loophole and that steps were taken to close it.

Fortunately for all Australians who have appeared before the AAT, I believe the Attorney-General has recognised the gross injustice of this legal loophole.  And after the National President of the APPVA Alan Thomas finished putting forward his views, I also believe the Attorney-General now understands how much of a danger to the mental health of veterans that this legal loophole also poses,” said Senator Lambie.

“I’m continuing my own investigations into this matter.  Many people are contacting me with interesting information.  The Attorney-General seems to think that this decision was a mistake by the AAT and a simple administrative error.

I’ve been made aware of information that suggests a political party was involved in trying to obtain the release of my most private medical documents to the media.  I’ll have more to say about that information under privilege in parliament,” said Senator Lambie.