Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 8 Hansard (6 August) . .
costs of all medical and veterinary professions. One effect was that medical professionals often had multiple registrations. For example, a vet or nurse registered in Canberra also had to be registered, at their additional cost, in New South Wales to work in Queanbeyan.
In 2006, and separate from other medical professionals, a model for national registration for veterinary surgeons was agreed to at the Council of Australian Governments primary industries ministerial council, with a target for completion of 2008. All Australian states except WA, but not the ACT, have enacted legislation enabling the national registration for veterinary surgeons.
In 2008 COAG agreed to the intergovernmental agreement for a national registration and accreditation scheme for all health professions, which committed to a national scheme of registration and accreditation for health professionals—but not vets—in Australia by 1 July 2010. In 2010 all health professionals, except veterinary surgeons, were moved into a nationally harmonised scheme with local enabling legislation. This included all health professionals in the ACT in 2010.
From 2010 the ACT was then left with only veterinary surgeons under the old Health Professionals Act. This was and is a clumsy and inefficient arrangement. Five years later this is where the registration of veterinary surgeons languishes today. Perhaps in frustration, and to help legislators, the Australian Veterinary Association, the AVA, produced an 11-page guide for writing Australian veterinary practice acts.
Canberra veterinary surgeons have long wanted a new, stand-alone veterinary act. They have also wanted it to closely align with the AVA national guidelines. The Australian Veterinary Association has also called for legislation to enable national recognition of veterinary surgeons in the ACT as "a high priority and should be expedited at the earliest opportunity".
In 2015 the government's response is the Veterinary Surgeons Bill which is before us today. The new bill proposes that veterinary surgeons have stand-alone legislation with some of the complexity and structures of the old HPA removed. This is a start. The bill also repeals the HPA but creates a new act which is really only a stripped down version of the HPA.
The scrutiny committee had all sorts of issues with this bill. It raised seven pages of questions and drew more than 15 matters to the attention of the Assembly. I will not go into the details of all those concerns; they are there for members to read at their leisure. Given that the bill is a stripped down version of the soon-to-be repealed act, it has many internal inconsistencies, especially in regard to the complaints mechanisms. The scrutiny committee identified many of these. Any attempt to improve the bill piecemeal would be complex and could have all sorts of new and unintended consequences. All of this is a reflection of the history of the bill being a cobbled together version of the stripped down HPA.
In fact, the explanatory notes for the bill admit that this bill "creates legislation which mirrors the current arrangements under which the board operates". Ambitiously, perhaps, the explanatory statement goes on to say that the bill:
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