Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 15 Hansard (Thursday, 10 December 2009) . . Page.. 5640 ..
On 26 March 2008, COAG signed an intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, for the national regulation of health professionals through a national registration and accreditation scheme. The IGA contains the fundamental objectives of the scheme. It protects the public by ensuring that only practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered; facilitates workforce mobility across Australia and reduces red tape for practitioners; facilitates the provision of high-quality education and training and rigorous and responsive assessment of overseas-trained practitioners; supports the public by promoting access to health services; supports the continuous development of a flexible, responsive and sustainable Australian health workforce; and supports innovation in education and service delivery.
The principles that underpin our objective of establishing this new national scheme are plain. The scheme will operate in a transparent, accountable, efficient, effective and fair manner; ensure that fees and charges are reasonable; and recognise that restrictions on the practice of a health practitioner should only occur where the benefits of the restriction to the community as a whole outweigh the costs. The scheme will also maintain the status quo in that the current ACT legislation is contemporary and provides for a high level of public safety.
The process for establishing the national registration and accreditation scheme is a complicated legislative process and requires three separate pieces of legislation, which have become known as bills A, B and C. Bill A, or the Health Practitioner Regulation (Administrative Arrangements) National Law Bill 2008, was passed by the Queensland parliament in November 2008. This bill sets out the overall governance arrangements of the scheme. The second piece of legislation, bill B, called the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Bill 2009, was passed in the Queensland parliament on 29 October 2009. The ACT is now introducing legislation which will enable the adoption of bill B in the ACT.
In passing the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (ACT) Bill 2009, or bill C, the ACT will be on target to support national introduction of the scheme by 1 July 2010. This bill C adopts bill B in the ACT, with consequential amendments relating to other ACT legislation, and a slight change to the complaints-handling arrangements in bill B. Bill B only allows for limited collaboration between health complaints entities and national boards. While the ACT is committed to the national scheme, we currently have a complaints-handling model which closely links the health professions board with the ACT Health Services Commissioner. This arrangement is similar to the public interest assessor model, which was strongly based on the current ACT laws, proposed in the exposure draft of bill B.
As the public interest assessor role was removed from bill B, the ACT has modified its complaints-handling process to retain a joint consideration model between the national boards with the ACT Health Services Commissioner. This decision is in line with the intergovernmental agreement which states:
The States and Territories will use their best endeavours to ensure legislation as appropriate provide for entities in their jurisdiction to investigate and hear serious disciplinary matters arising from the registration function. Each State and