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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2102 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

I do not accept Mr Berry's comment that we have to know individual information about every one of those six. We know they are school counsellors. They can still work as school counsellors. Nobody is taking away their capacity to operate in the jobs that they do now. If we let them through the system, as it appears they may be able to do under the current Act, according to the legal advice that we have, I do not believe we would be doing in this place what we intended to do. Therefore, we should pass this legislation now. This is to help the board do what they are required to do - to protect the public; to ensure that proper peer review is in place.

Let us just put aside the politics for a moment and pass this legislation. We are very well aware what the scrutiny of Bills committee has said, and that is that people who already have applications on the table will be ruled out. They should be. They are school counsellors. They should not be registered as psychologists unless they have the prerequisite qualifications to be psychologists. I have to say that I do not quite understand what more time will do in this particular situation. Let us just pass the legislation. We have a lot of work to do today. Let us get on with it.

All this Bill does, remember, is ensure what we intended; that is, that there was a sunset clause on the transition provisions of the psychologists that actually came in and was real. We now find that we have a problem with that sunset clause. Let us get rid of that problem. Let us pass it now and then get on with the business of the rest of the day. We are not changing policy here. We are doing exactly what we intended to do initially with the Psychologists Act, and that is protect the public by ensuring that only people who have proper qualifications can register as psychologists. So, let us pass the legislation. Let us get on with it.

MR SPEAKER: Before I call Mr Hargreaves, I would like to recognise the presence in the gallery of students from Years 4 and 5 of Torrens Primary School who are doing an area of study on local government. Welcome to your Assembly.

MR HARGREAVES (11.26): Mr Speaker, I do not think anybody in this place has any difficulty with what we are trying to achieve with this Bill. It is crystal clear that, where a sunset clause that was established some time ago has overrun its time, we should do something about it. There is no difficulty with the intention of the Government to do this, so far as we can see. There is some smokiness and some murkiness about whether or not the Bill, as presented, will achieve that as far as we are concerned, but I will not go into those details at this point.

The scrutiny of Bills committee has raised a query. It says that the effect of section 58 would be to terminate applications to the Psychologists Board. They have already got these six in there. It has not been proven to me that these people's rights will not be infringed. If the board rules these things out, fine. But it has not. There are applications before the board. Furthermore, another section terminates applications for review. These people have another one. Now, in a nice world, we would go down the track that the Government is going down without putting anybody's case at risk. There would be no applications before the board and that would just change things very neatly. We would be happy about that.

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