Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3179..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
Apparently, there was a move to cover some more issues with these amendments, which would have updated some survey practices to accord with latest practice and what is currently being taught at universities. But after meeting resistance from established practitioners, it was decided to omit or modify those proposals. I understand that nothing of significance turns on these omissions and that nothing will be lost by waiting for generational change to create pressure from the industry itself for these changes in the future. I have the opportunity to congratulate another branch of the public service on its demonstrated commitment to meaningful consultation at the formative stage and before decisions have been finalised or substantially decided upon. It makes a refreshing change, and it has clearly had a good outcome in the case of this legislation.
The establishment of a new survey practice advisory committee seems to be a sensible move to obtain the benefits from having access to a wide range of expertise and industry experience. As long as avenues are left open for welcoming and listening to alternative views not represented on the panel, this seems to be a commendable model, and I urge the government to investigate its inception in other areas. I understand that the provisions in this bill requiring continual professional development would bring the law into line with most other Australian jurisdictions. In any case, it is a sensible provision. Combined with other provisions, and the amendments to clause 8 of the bill, this bill provides for the mutual recognition of appropriate surveying qualifications. This is a sensible approach to the skills shortage in the ACT.
As far as the disciplinary provisions are concerned, I understand that the surveying profession in the ACT has an exemplary record so far as the maintenance of professional standards is concerned, and I congratulate them on this record. I will be supporting this bill, and I support the amendments, including the inclusion of the words "reasonable grounds"to qualify any administrative discretion in this bill, and in every law where there is the possibility of ambiguity.
The alternative is to rely on the Wednesbury unreasonableness test under the ADJR act. But this sets the bar so high that it would only invalidate a decision if it was so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it. The discretion under clause 56 (1) to exempt a surveyor from a practice direction requirement is serious enough to err on the side of caution and include an explicit reasonableness provision. The amendments to this bill are self-explanatory, sensible and desirable, and I will be supporting them.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (5.34): As I briefly mentioned to Mr Barr in the stairwell the other day, a friend of mine who is a surveyor asked me to pass on a few issues which I think are relevant, more so in relation to the advisory committee which the minister will set up, and I passed them on for the benefit of the minister. I am not too sure whether it makes a huge difference in the ACT because it relates to two bodies, and most surveyors are in both. So in practical terms it may not be a problem. My friend is a surveyor of long standing who works with the government at present and has been involved in that area for about 20 or more years.