Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 911 ..
Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (ACT) Bill 2009
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (4.43): Having outlined, before lunch, the position of the Canberra Liberals, can I summarise it by saying that it is not that the legislation brought forward by the government is bad legislation. The problem is that it is inconsistent with the national agenda and, as a result, it is going to have a negative effect in the ACT. It also defeats the intent of COAG and the benefits that would arise in all other jurisdictions across Australia if we were to have nationally consistent legislation. If you were listening to the debate before lunch, you will recall that I went through much of the argument for that, including all the submissions from the boards, which are unanimous in their concerns about the legislation that has been introduced by the government.
I firmly believe that the boards and the Health Services Commissioner are committed to the highest standards of clinical care and professional conduct within health professions. As I said before lunch, I regret that there is some degree of mistrust between them. My position on the bill and my amendment should not be seen as choosing one side over the other or as an endorsement of either’s position, but simply as a matter of saying that we need nationally consistent legislation. That is why we are debating this today. That is why this whole framework has been introduced in every jurisdiction in Australia—to have national consistency. The government’s bill deviates from that position.
I believe that both the boards and the Health Services Commissioner have different but complementary roles and that both play a vital role in achieving what they do in the ACT. I am sure that both would agree with the assessment that I have made. I do not think it is an unfair one. I believe that the national scheme as proposed to be introduced everywhere else in Australia is a good model. It contains adequate public safety protections. It clearly articulates the role of the Health Services Commissioner and will be a tremendous improvement on the status quo in relation to the registration of health practitioners.
In contrast, the bill as presented by the ACT government is a continuation of the status quo that we have in the ACT in that it gives the ACT health complaints entity disproportionately more power than the same entity in other jurisdictions. This will hinder and slow the process of notifications and complaints by the national boards against ACT-based health practitioners.
Should my amendments not be successful today, I would be greatly comforted if the minister committed to reviewing the operation of the ACT legislation to ensure that we are not diluting or risking the national scheme in any way and that the provisions in the ACT bill are achieving the objectives that the government intends to achieve. But I believe that that is not the case and I would recommend in the strongest terms that the government review the legislation being dealt with today.
In her presentation speech the minister indicated that the ACT, in introducing different legislation, was merely acting within the spirit of the intergovernmental