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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3189..

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 14, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 15.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Arts and Heritage, and Acting Minister for Health) (5.56): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 3240].

I table a supplementary explanatory statement to the government amendments. If I may, I will speak to the amendments in general. The full legislative package for this bill was developed following a lengthy consultation period with all the major stakeholders that addressed many of the concerns. There are, however, some amendments still required to ensure that the bill affords appropriate coverage.

The first major amendment relates to the definition of health service under clause 15 of the bill. Increasingly, the professional practices of many health professionals are entering areas that are predominantly non-health service areas-for example, the use of medical practitioners as full-time legal experts to write medico-legal reports for the presentation of evidence before a court. Whilst these health professionals are not providing a health service as currently defined in the bill, they are still required to be registered as a health professional.

The government is of the view that the public should be afforded the same protections and that the same level of professional standards should be adhered to in respect of the delivery of these services as for the delivery of other health services. In order to accommodate these areas of practice, the government proposes to include a further subclause at clause 15 to extend the definition of a health service to include all non-health services provided by health professionals in their professional capacity.

The amendment proposed will include, as part of the definition of a health service, a definition of a professional service, which will be defined as a service provided by a registered health professional in that professional's capacity as a registered health professional. This amendment would capture all the non-health professional groups of the health professions that are regulated under the bill. An amendment that incorporates a definition of a professional service as part of the definition of a health service will also avoid the need for any further consequential amendments to be made through the legislation.

The remaining proposed amendments largely arise from comments made by the scrutiny of bills committee. The main amendment relates to clause 130. It allowed the relevant minister to exempt a health professional from a provision of the act if the minister was satisfied that the public interest was so served. This provision was aimed primarily at enabling registration in circumstances where it was in the public interest to allow a health professional to practise, even though the health professional would not normally satisfy the registration criteria. This exemption was to be a notifiable but not disallowable instrument.

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