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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 19 ..

Mr MOORE (continuing):

A number of boards already know that they are being considered for deregistration as boards; for example, the one for surveyors which we have before us. The one for dental prosthetics is another. We have given a clear indication to those performing dental prosthesis that we consider that the need for them to have a board for the protection of public safety has not been demonstrated.

Mr Kaine: Has the need to have one not been demonstrated? Has the need to have one even been looked at?

MR MOORE: I am saying to you that the process has been extraordinarily thorough and the process is continuing. I think that it is very important to understand that. The need for the Medical Board, the Nurses Board, the Physiotherapists Board and the Psychologists Board has been demonstrated very clearly, although I have to say that this Assembly has put us in a position where the chair of the Psychologists Board, if I can say so as an aside, has come to me very concerned about legislation passed by this place that limits its ability to protect the profession.

I have to say to Mr Kaine that I was very disappointed, in as far as I can avoid reflecting on a vote of the Assembly, in his approach on that issue, where the very opposite of what he is saying here happened. It is appropriate at times to protect public health, to protect the public interest and to protect a profession through the use of a board, but that protection ought to be understood for what it is. That is what the competition policy is all about.

The policy was announced donkeys years ago, Mr Speaker. Yes, this legislation is part of a process that we are going through with all boards. It is very clear and public to all the health boards, including the veterinary boards, that they are being examined and we are changing their processes. We have been in consultation a couple of times. Once the legislation is drafted, we will go out for further consultations. The process is a long process and an appropriate process and this is not just a one-off example. It is part of the whole process. Mr Kaine, having answered your questions, I look forward to your support of this bill.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.44), in reply: Mr Speaker, I am surprised that the accusation should be made that there was a lack of consultation with the board. The person who wrote the bill was, in fact, the chairman of the board and I know that he did consult with the board, so it strikes me as strange that somebody should stand up and make the accusation that there was a lack of consultation. I know that the surveyors did the rounds. This bill has been sitting in the Assembly for a period. We seem to have been busy late last year. I saw just about all the surveyor groups and spoke to a large number of them at many surveying functions.

The purpose of the bill is to streamline the system to make the act work far better. It is to streamline disciplinary procedures and get advice out. The current board meets every two months or so. To have this position of commissioner would allow any information that comes to light to be passed on immediately. If there are issues that need to be addressed, they can be done so speedily and efficiently.

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