Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1545..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
with the RAIA's approach. To do that would put us out of step with the jurisdictions that have reformed their legislation in accordance with the agreed principles.
The RAIA was advised when we began drafting this bill that this matter was not open to negotiation because of our commitment to harmonisation principles. The RAIA raised the issue of the nominee provisions again in the last week, specifically in relation to the function of the nominees and their concerns that the functions may be problematic for firms that only provide architectural services and only employ registered architects. Their concern was in relation to the word "supervise". Now that the RAIA has clarified what their specific issue is in relation to the nominee functions I believe it is appropriate to amend clause 30 of the bill. The amendment I will move provides more flexibility for the nominee in performing their functions, depending on the operating arrangements of the firm in relation to architectural services.
The provision for a code of conduct is one of the most significant consumer protection improvements of this bill. The code will relate to professional standards and client service required of all registered architects. A failure to operate in accordance with an approved code would be a ground for disciplinary action. The RAIA and the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia have worked together to develop a moral code of professional conduct which New South Wales, with some modifications, is proposing to adopt. The ACT will use this model as the basis for a professional code of conduct under this legislation.
As members will be aware the scrutiny of bills committee raised an issue in their report 46 of 24 March, relating to the operation of clause 54. The clause relates to the giving of confidential information to the architects board by an architect subject to a disciplinary inquiry. The clause provides that the architect is not civilly liable for the giving of the information to the architects board as part of the disciplinary process. The issue raised by the scrutiny of bills committee is whether such deprivation of protection for the confidential information is a breach of a right to privacy. The committee made a number of suggestions for a less rights restrictive approach to achieve the objective of the clause.
Taking the clause in context this provision only relates to confidential information divulged as part of a disciplinary process. Disciplinary processes, including inquiries, are not undertaken in public because of a need to ensure that the rights of any architect subject to possible disciplinary action are protected. Because of the way in which the disciplinary process is undertaken, the giving of confidential information necessary to enable the board to make a well-informed decision is also protected.
It is important to note that the confidential information must be relevant to the disciplinary grounds that gave rise to the commencement of the process. If the board receives confidential information it has the power to call the client who is the owner of the confidential information as a witness in an inquiry or seek further information directly from the client in relation to the confidential information received. Because clause 54 only applies in the context of disciplinary proceedings, the divulging of confidential information outside of these processes could be subject to civil action.
I believe that the provisions of the bill as drafted provide sufficient safeguards for the handling of confidential information and have therefore decided it is not necessary to prepare any government amendments to the bill in relation to clause 54. The team that