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Infectious Disease Controls Bill Debated

A bill which allows more control over those who pose risks due to infectious diseases has been sent to select committee with wide agreement.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the Health (Protection) Amendment Bill would amend outdated legislation creating protections from those carrying infectious diseases.

Dr Coleman said the Health Act did allow for some powers to protect from diseases such as Ebola these would remain, but the changes would allow for more protections and other things such as contact tracing.

There would be powers to direct for testing and in extreme cases quarantine and travel restrictions with safeguards for human rights. Enforced treatment orders would be possibly, but this would not be able to be physically enforced.

The bill also stops the commercial provision of sun bed tanning for those under the age of 18.

Annette King said Labour would support the legislation. The changes had been proposed in 2007 in wider amendments to the Health Act but these had languished due to opposition from National.

The changes would strengthen the current fragmented regime, she said.

Green MP Kevin Hague said these sorts of laws were a balancing act of protecting liberty and protection of the public.

If the balance tipped too far people who were ill or possibly ill might not present themselves for treatment because they feared the consequences, he said.

The bill was sent to the Health Committee for consideration on a voice vote.

The House rose at 6pm interrupting debate on the second reading of the Parole Amendment Bill.

Earlier the Gambling Amendment Bill (No 3) completed its first reading by 108 to 11 with NZ First opposed and was sent to the Government Administration Committee.


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