I have an opinion piece in today's Canberra Times on eHealth.
eHealth Means All Are More Informed, Canberra Times, 12 March 2012

Recently, octogenarian Pat Douglass was the first patient in the ACT and southern New South Wales to sign up for an eHealth record, at Calvary Hospital. Calvary is one of 12 national projects that are pre-testing elements of the personally controlled electronic health record system.

People sometimes talk about eHealth in technical terms, but when I spoke to parliament about it a couple of weeks ago, I found that the best way of understanding eHealth was to realise Mrs Douglass’ experiences of being treated without electronic health records.

Mrs Douglass, who still lives independently, had a fall in the street near her home and acquired a brain injury. After her fall, Mrs Douglass was confined to hospital for 10 weeks. After undergoing rehabilitation she returned home, but none of her regular doctors knew that she had been in hospital. None of her doctors knew about her injury or how she had been progressing. Similarly, the hospital was unaware of Mrs Douglass’ regular health requirements. Any information on normal medicines or routine check-ups that Mrs Douglass might have required during her time in hospital was not available to the doctors at Calvary.

Mrs Douglass told me that she thought it was a bit ridiculous that none of her doctors could share information about her previous conditions or about her current conditions. She wanted all of her doctors who look after different aspects of her health to be fully informed.

With eHealth records, this will be a thing of the past. Electronic health records will allow patients (if they choose) to share information with a range of health professionals. For example, your GP will be able to know what your physiotherapist has recommended. Your chiropractor will understand the different types of treatments you are undertaking. You will not need to explain your allergies, medicines and immunisations every time you see a different doctor.

For example, a Calvary eHealth record will include the following information: name, date of birth, address, contact details, allergies, immunisations and the medicines the patient is currently taking; a summary of each consultation; medical conditions; referrals; specialist letters; discharge summaries following hospital admissions; diagnostic reports, such as X-ray results; and shared care plans agreed between GPs and participating healthcare professionals.

eHealth records are particularly important for young adults who have moved away from home and are finding a new GP. They are important for older Australians, because we tend to have more complex health needs the older we get. And they are important to people with lower levels of literacy, who might have more difficulty relaying information provided by one health provider to another.

Each year, thousands of people are admitted into hospitals due to medication errors. Better sharing of information will reduce these sorts of unnecessary admissions. In the case of Mrs Douglass, Calvary Hospital was unaware that she was taking additional medications and needed to see her specialist during that time. If Mrs Douglass had had an eHealth record, all that information would have been available to her doctors. Under eHealth, patients will spend less time explaining and more time getting the care they need from their health professionals.

eHealth records will be an opt-in system, meaning that no-one will be forced to have an eHealth record. Records will be personally controlled and managed by patients, who can decide who they show their information to, including family members. For example, Mrs Douglass might have allowed her children to share her information in the event of an adverse health occurrence such as her fall.

Given the benefits of eHealth, you would have thought that it would enjoy bipartisan support in the federal parliament. Yet the Liberals went to the last election with no clear plan or idea for eHealth. These days, the Liberals support the federal government’s eHealth legislation, but Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey nominates the Department of Health and Ageing as one of the first on the chopping board for his 12,000 public service redundancies. If you gut the Health Department, it’s pretty difficult to know who’s going to manage eHealth.

After hearing Pat Douglass’s story, I decided to opt in, and signed up for my own eHealth record. If you’d like to do the same, just go to and download a form. Like Mrs Douglass, you’ll find that all of your doctors will suddenly be able to speak to one another – which means you can stop playing courier and go back to being a patient.

Andrew Leigh is the federal member for Fraser, and his website is
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At the Jervis Bay Territory - 8 March 2012

Last Thursday was the 25th anniversary of the land grant for the Wreck Bay Indigenous Community, so I timed my regular visit to coincide with the celebrations.

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Historic Anniversary for Wreck Bay Land Grant

I spent today in the Jervis Bay Territory; a small pocket of Commonwealth-owned coastal land near Nowra. I spent my time meeting with local constituents and talking with the local school, and also had the chance to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Wreck Bay Land grant.
Media Release


Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Minister for Disability Reform


Member for Fraser

 Historic anniversary for Wreck Bay Land grant

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Wreck Bay Land grant, a significant anniversary for the local Aboriginal community.

Twenty-five years ago the then Hawke government handed back 403 hectares of land in Wreck Bay, in the Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay, to the local Aboriginal community.

This historic event followed many years of negotiation and was a significant step in recognising traditional land and beginning a process of healing for the local Aboriginal community.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said that since the land grant, the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council has worked hard to protect natural and cultural sites.

“The council has ensured their land has retained its rich variety of habitats, which provide a home for more than 200 species of birds, 30 species of land mammals and 180 species of fish,” Ms Macklin said.

“The council also continues to pass on traditional knowledge, ensuring that their rich cultural heritage is not lost.

“And by providing community services, education and training, supporting health needs, including aid and housing assistance, the council has helped to build a strong community.”

Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, joined the community for the anniversary celebrations and congratulated the Wreck Bay community and council for their hard work and dedication over the past 25 years.

“Today is a special day for the Wreck Bay community and I’m pleased to be able to share in the celebrations to mark this historic occasion,” Dr Leigh said.

“The Australian Government has provided $20,000 funding to support the events marking the anniversary of the Wreck Bay Land grant.”

Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community was handed the land title in 1987 under the Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay) Act 1986.
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Celebrity Suburb Names

With Monday 12 March 2012 marking the 99th anniversary of Canberra, Robyn Archer and her team have a plethora of highbrow projects ready to go in the centenary year. But at the same time, I thought it was important to have some lowbrow ones as well.

Some time ago, Maryann Mussared dropped me off a list of 'celebrity suburb names' she'd devised. Here's the game: come up with a celebrity after whom your suburb could have been named. The more outrageous the better.

For example, you might decide that Hackett was named after the Triple J 'Hack' program, or Braddon is named after Brad Haddin.

Here's Maryann's list:

  • Ainslie - Ainslie Gotto

  • Bruce - Bruce Willis (or the Australian Bruces)

  • Campbell - Glen Campbell (singer)

  • Casey - Ben Casey (TV actor)

  • Cook - Masterchef

  • Dunlop - Tyres

  • Florey - Original home of Floriade

  • Forde - Harrison Ford (actor) or Ford Prefect (fiction character)

  • Franklin - D. Roosevelt

  • Fraser - Tammie Fraser

  • Harrison - Rex Harrison (actor)

  • Higgins - Missy Higgins (singer) or Henry Higgins (fiction character)

  • Latham - Mark Latham

  • Macgregor - Euan Macgregor (actor) or Farmer Macgregor (fiction character)

  • Macquarie - Pass

  • Melba - Peach Melba

  • Mitchell - Warren Mitchell

  • O'Connor - Des O'Connor (actor)

  • Page - Elaine Page

  • Reid - Chopper Reid

  • Russell - Russell Crowe

  • Scullin - Oarsome Foursome

  • Spence - Bruce Spence (actor)

  • Turner - Ike & Tina

  • Watson - Dr Watson (fictional character)

Of course, most Canberra suburbs are still missing, so can you add to the list? If so, post your suggestions in comments below, or tweet them with the tag #celebcanberra.

Let's see how many we can come up with between now and the 99th birthday of our fine city.
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Opening of Lena Karmel Lodge

[caption id="attachment_2315" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Opening Lena Karmel Lodge with ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young and Lena Karmel. Photo by Stuart Hay."][/caption] I was delighted to join ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young to open the Lena Karmel Lodge at the Australian National University today.

This follows on from the opening of Weeden Lodge at the University of Canberra last week. Both of these projects were funded through the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which has proven to be a great way to keep more Canberrans in work in the construction industry while also providing much-needed rental accommodation for students.

The media release is below.





550 more students to get affordable accommodation

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher today joined Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh and ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young in opening the Australian National University’s newest student accommodation - Lena Karmel Lodge, which will provide even more affordable accommodation for Canberra’s growing student population.

Located in the City West precinct, the development was supported by contributions from the ACT and Commonwealth governments through the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

“Just last week I was pleased to open Weeden Lodge – which is already home to up to 220 University of Canberra students in the refurbished Cameron Offices in Belconnen. It is great to follow that this week by opening Lena Karmel Lodge, for a further 550 ANU students.

“Both of these new spaces for students deliver an affordable accommodation option at a discounted rent of at least 20 per cent below the market rate. This means that studying in Canberra remains an attractive option for current and future students,” the Chief Minister said.

Minister for Housing Brendan O’Connor said Lena Karmel Lodge was part of the Gillard Government’s $4.3 billion investment to increase the supply of affordable housing across the nation through the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

“The Gillard Government recognises that people are struggling to find rental properties around Australia,” Mr O’Connor said.

“That’s why we are helping to build 50,000 new rental properties nationwide, allowing households to save thousands of dollars each year in rent.

“Investing in building projects like Lena Karmel Lodge also helps support local builders and tradies and keeps the economy strong,” Mr O’Connor said.

Dr Leigh said Lena Karmel Lodge was further evidence of the Gillard Government’s commitment to Canberra.

“Education is Canberra’s second largest export, and these extra beds mean we can continue to attract and educate Australia’s future workforce, while freeing up rental properties for other Canberrans,” Dr Leigh said.

As well as providing new accommodation for the 550 ANU students, the facilities also house a conference room, a cafeteria, small gym and ground floor shops.

The Chief Minister congratulated the ANU on nearing completion of its objective of building 1,033 new units through the National Rental Affordability Scheme.

“Significant additions of student accommodation are not only important to the ANU, but also bolster Canberra’s reputation as one of Australia’s leading cities for obtaining further education.

“The Territory Government, together with the Commonwealth is extremely proud to have contributed to these affordable rental units, which will also help improve overall rental affordability, which means fewer students are competing for accommodation in the private rental market,” the Chief Minister concluded.
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Opening Lena Karmel Lodge with ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young and Lena Karmel

Photo by Stuart Hay
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Sky AM Agenda - 1 March 2012

A surprisingly congenial discussion with Kieran Gilbert and Simon Birmingham about politics and policy.

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Welcoming the Babies Postponed

Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser


‘Welcoming the Babies’ Postponed

Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh’s annual ‘Welcoming the Babies’ event has been postponed due to poor weather.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had some bad news. The National Capital Authority advised me that I’m unable to have the event at Stage 88 this weekend due to poor weather and concerns for safety,” said Andrew Leigh.

“With many babies already registered for this event, and knowing how important it is to connect families with community services, I’m still going ahead with a modified version of Welcoming the Babies.”

Here are the new details:

Date: Monday 26 March 2012

Time: 10:00am-11:00am

Venue: Andrew Leigh’s electorate office, 1 Torrens St, Braddon (at the corner of Torrens and Cooyong Streets)

“The best thing about having it in my office is that we can be sure it won’t be rained out! Parents should feel welcome to drop in, even if it’s just for a short time.”

A light morning tea will be provided. Parents will also still have a chance to connect with community service providers and one another, with many service providers either in attendance or providing materials. RSVPs are strongly recommended.

For more information or to RSVP email Andrew.Leigh.MP<@> or phone 6247 4396.
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A Twitter Randomised Trial - The Results

At the start of February, I began a randomised trial of twitter. I said that I was a twitter-sceptic, but plenty of people (including Louise, Joshua & Holly) had been pushing me to give it a go. So picking up an idea of Justin Wolfers, I decided to use a randomised trial to test whether twitter made me happier and more productive. I figured that if I was going to move a motion in parliament calling for more policy randomised trials, the least I could do was to experiment on myself.

The experiment worked like this. At the end of each day, I rated my happiness and productivity on a 1-10 scale, and then tossed a coin to decide to tweet the following day.

Yesterday, the 29-day experiment ended. Over the month, my average happiness was 6.9, and my average productivity was 6.5. Out of curiosity, I began by looking at how both metrics related to the two big shifts in my week: parliamentary sittings and weekends. Though the difference isn't statistically significant, the data suggests that weekends find me happier and less productive, while sittings find me less happy and more productive.

But how about tweeting? The graphs below show my average happiness and productivity on tweeting and non-tweeting days. It looks like tweeting makes me happier, but less productive. However, neither difference is statistically significant.

Sure, I hear you saying - but how does it look in a multiple regression? Well, the answer is not much different. Here are regressions that hold constant the weekend and parliamentary sittings effects.

Happiness regression

Source SS df MS Number of obs = 29
F( 3, 25) = 0.85
Model 2.21812111 3 .739373702 Prob > F = 0.4777
Residual 21.6439479 25 .865757914 R-squared = 0.0930
Adj R-squared = -0.0159
Total 23.862069 28 .852216749 Root MSE = .93046
happiness Coef. Std. Err. t P>t [95% Conf. Interval]
tweet .2048417 .3766625 0.54 0.591 -.5709093 .9805927
weekend .1638734 .460441 0.36 0.725 -.7844226 1.112169
sittings -.409311 .4069081 -1.01 0.324 -1.247354 .4287319
_cons 6.90689 .3286612 21.02 0.000 6.23 7.583781

Productivity regression

Source SS df MS Number of obs = 29
F( 3, 25) = 0.33
Model 1.48123033 3 .493743445 Prob > F = 0.8059
Residual 37.760149 25 1.51040596 R-squared = 0.0377
Adj R-squared = -0.0777
Total 39.2413793 28 1.40147783 Root MSE = 1.229
productivity Coef. Std. Err. t P>t [95% Conf. Interval]
tweet -.3929236 .4975091 -0.79 0.437 -1.417563 .6317155
weekend .0856611 .6081666 0.14 0.889 -1.166882 1.338204
sittings .2633147 .5374585 0.49 0.628 -.8436018 1.370231
_cons 6.633147 .4341073 15.28 0.000 5.739086 7.527208

Nothing's statistically significant, but the confidence intervals remain pretty tight, with the 95% confidence interval for the tweeting coefficient lying between -0.6 and +1 in the happiness regression, and between -1.4 and +0.6 in the productivity regression. While I wouldn't be sanguine about a daily 1-point hit to productivity, it doesn't look like tweeting does much harm (or good) to my output and life satisfaction. If you'd like to play with the data yourself, here it is in Excel format (or you can go to the raw data).

Add to that the fact that tweeting over the past month has brought a tad more attention to some of my speeches and writings, and a little frivolity to my life (did someone say #AusPolValentines?).

So I think that decides it. From now, I'm officially tweeting.

If you'd like to follow me, just click the button below.

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Brad Runs North

I spoke in parliament today about 22-year old Canberran Bradley Carron-Arthur, and his 4000 km run to raise money for and awareness of mental illness.
Brad Runs North
1 March 2012

Running is one of my favourite pastimes and over the years I have managed to put in a reasonable number of kilometres, but nothing like the local Canberra boy Bradley Carron-Arthur. Twenty-two year old Brad is running from Canberra to the far tip of Australia, past Cairns, past Cooktown, ending east of Punsand in Cape York, a journey of 4,000 kilometres. Brad is raising money for the Australian Foundation for Mental Health Research. To date he has raised $9,450 of his $20,000 target. Having left Canberra on New Year's Day this year, Brad has so far travelled over 2,284 kilometres. According to the latest update two days ago, he had covered 22 kilometres that day and he was in Bundaberg. His trip has not been without its dramas. Apparently the batteries in his headlamp died just before he had to swim across a swollen creek that was cutting across the road. He made it across and arrived safely in Bundaberg, but I do not envy him with the rain that is going on at the moment.

Brad is raising money for mental illness. He points out that one in five Australians suffer a mental illness. A staggering 60 per cent of them do not seek support. Over the past decades there have been great efforts to reduce the stigma of mental illness by people like Brad, the former Premier of Western Australia Geoff Gallop, former Premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett, ex Wallabies winger Clyde Rathbone and many others. This government has a strong commitment to reducing the stigma of mental illness and investing in mental health, and we are delighted to have people like Brad raising money and raising awareness of these important issues.

Brad's run north has been made possible through the contributions, efforts and support of many people in Canberra and along the way. It is a demonstration of the positive power of social capital, which gives a sense of connectedness, wellbeing and purpose in our day-to-day lives. I would urge those in the chamber and those watching this speech to join me in supporting Brad. Just go to his website,, and make a donation or send him a message of support. Brad's efforts inspire all of us to help work on worthy causes and also to get out there for an occasional or a regular run. I am a great fan of Brad and his efforts inspire many of us. Like many Canberrans, I wish him all the best as he makes his way to the tip of Cape York.
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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.