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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 17 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The review concluded that this board was too large relative to the small number of surveyors in the ACT and that its domination by registered surveyors could lead to bias and protectionism. I agree that there is a need to look at the composition of the board to ensure its independence and efficiency. However, the government has chosen to go to the other extreme. This legislation abolishes the Surveyors Board entirely and replaces it with a single Commissioner for Surveys.

The surveying profession is concerned that this is concentrating the regulatory power too much and that it will be hard to find a person for this position who will be totally impartial as, by necessity, they will have had a previous involvement with the surveying industry. This is particularly relevant where the commissioner has to investigate and discipline a surveyor over professional misconduct. If there were a board, then at least there would be checks and balances between the members of the board that would make it act more impartially.

It has to be admitted, however, that some checks on the commissioner's power have been built into the legislation, such as the right of a surveyor to appeal to the AAT over the commissioner's decisions. The commissioner is to be appointed for a term, rather than on a permanent basis, and the commissioner is obliged to consult with the surveying profession on proposed practice directions.

Overall, I think that there is a genuine need to update the existing legislation and that there are some good aspects of the proposed legislation that deserve support. However, I remain to be convinced about the benefits of abolishing the Surveyors Board. Unfortunately, I do not have the resources to rewrite the legislation for the government. The surveying profession itself also does not seem to be clear about what would be a better alternative. I am therefore not going to oppose the legislation, but I will monitor its implementation and, if any problems arise, then I or the Greens that are here will be happy to support a revisiting of this legislation.

MR KAINE (11.36): Like Ms Tucker, I have some concerns about why the government is moving as it is with this legislation. The particular aspect of it which I find unconvincing is the doing away of the board. The minister has given no justification or reason for doing away with the board. He has not said that it would make the industry more efficient or more effective. It is not going to make it work better in the public interest. It is not going to cost less; if it is, he has not told us that.

I do not know what is the government's motivation for doing away with this board, which leads to further questions. I just made a cursory inspection of the acts and regulations in my office and it took me about three minutes to pick up the fact that there is a Podiatrists Board, a Psychologists Board, a Medical Board, an Agents Board and a Nurses Board. I found out just by going through my red folders at random. How many boards are in existence in the territory that relate to particular professions and why has the government selected only the surveyors for doing away with their board? If the objective is self-regulation, are the surveyors somehow less deserving of self-regulation than all other professions in the territory?

I think that the minister has to explain to us whether this is a one-off and, if so, what is the justification for it. If it is not a one-off, over what period of time does the government intend to do away with all the other boards that exist? I notice that the

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