The My Health Record website is crashing again – just as the Australian Senate extended the opt out date to January 31

  • The opt out period for Australians who don’t want an online My Health Record file is due to end tomorrow.
  • The Senate voted to extend it for another 10 weeks, but the change needs to be approved by the lower house, which doesn’t sit for another 12 days.x
  • People attempting to use the website to opt out have reported repeated troubles and errors, but the Australian Digital Health Agency says it’s operational and reports of failure are incorrect.

Australians will now have an extra 10 weeks to opt out of the government’s controversial online centralised health records system, My Health Record, with the Senate voting today to extend the deadline until January 31 next year.

While the legislation now has to pass the lower house, where the government has lots its majority, which doesn’t sit again until November 26 – 11 days after the current opt out deadline – Health Minister Greg Hunt announced within hours of the vote that he would agree to the January 31 extension.

New NSW independent MP Dr Kerryn Phelps, who won Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Bennelong in the recent by-election to end the Coalition’s majority in the lower house, expressed her concerns on Twitter this afternoon calling for the deadline to be extended.

With the current deadline now just a day away, multiple users reported that the site was crashing once again – just as it had earlier in the week. Many also reported problems with contacting My Health Record by phone.

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) denies that the site has crashed, saying “reports that the My Health Record system is not operational are incorrect”.

The ADHA says it was experiencing high demand, which slowed down the system and “some people have experienced difficulties opting out this morning”, but those issues were now resolved.

Additional help line operators were also engaged and the option of a call back was introduced and a record would not be created for those people until the call was returned in coming days.

Labor had been attempting to extend the deadline by 12 months, but that proposal was voted down in the Senate 32-30, before senators instead back One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s January 31 proposal.

The matter was passed on voices rather than a division, with the Greens, and independent crossbench senators Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer siding with Labor to pass the vote.

Under the scheme, an online health record will automatically be created for all Australians unless they choose to opt out.

So far around 4% of the population – around 1.15 million people have chosen to not be part of the system amid an ongoing debate about privacy and access to the records.

Health Minister Greg Hunt, who had already extended the deadline to opt out by a month had refused a further extension.

Labor’s health spokesperson, Catherine King, said it would be “scandalous” if Hunt did not accept the Senate’s bill, especially after the system crashed from today’s demand.

“While Labor would have preferred a 12-month extension to allow time to address outstanding issues and rebuild community trust, we are pleased with the Senate’s decision,” she said.

“This will give Federal Parliament the time it needs to pass extra protections and safeguards. It was absurd that the Government wanted to push on with its original timeline before this legislation had passed.

“This delay will also give the Government time to address some of the other outstanding privacy issues, particularly around minors, default settings and automatic uploads.”

King also called on the government to improve its public information campaign on the scheme so people can make an informed choice on whether to opt out of My Health Record.