Page 1522 - Week 05 - Thursday, 11 May 2006

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Amendments to the act in 2001 allow me to declare a process as a quality assurance activity for the purpose of an approved committee. However, there are activities that require qualified privilege to function in the best interests of patient safety but need to operate outside of a committee structure. They are processes of reporting, monitoring and evaluating system enhancements in the clinical area that do not formally report to a quality assurance committee. I propose that the legislation provide qualified privilege to quality assurance activities as well as quality assurance committees.

There may be specific reasons for release of information covered by qualified privilege legislation; for example, disclosure of recommendations from an approved committee to the Coroner’s Court and/or health profession registration board. The current legislation does not recognise these circumstances. This bill will allow release of information in specified circumstances.

An additional amendment is proposed to the Health Professionals Act 2004 to postpone the default commencement provisions for a period of six months. The Health Professionals Act requires the gradual transition of identified health professions in the ACT from their current legislative arrangements to the Health Professionals Act 2004. The medical, nursing and midwifery professions have already undertaken the transition and the remaining 10 professions are ready to undertake this transition.

The transition process requires that individual professions develop new schedules specific to their particular profession. Once the new health profession schedules are formally commenced, the corresponding health profession registration act is repealed. The default commencement provisions in the Health Professionals Act 2004 are scheduled to take effect on 9 July 2006. On that date all remaining ACT health professional registration legislation that has not been transferred by way of a health profession specific schedule to the Health Professionals Act 2004 will be repealed.

This would lead to uncertainty and confusion in the health professional registration area if the current registration acts are repealed without a corresponding health profession specific schedule to replace that legislation. To overcome this problem, this bill will amend the default commencement provisions of the Health Professionals Act 2004 to extend them by six months. This will allow sufficient time to ensure that the remaining schedules and consequential amendments are made. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth) adjourned to the next sitting.

Standing orders—suspension

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (10.43): I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent, upon presentation of the Asbestos Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 (No 2), debate on the question “That the bill be agreed to in principle” being adjourned until a later hour this day.

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