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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 6 August 2015) . . Page.. 2426 ..

… aims to modernise and update to reflect current drafting standards and also to streamline the broader provisions of the HPA to be profession specific.

There is no mention that the bill provides for national recognition as called for by the AVA; nor does it say that this is aligned with the principles of the AVA model veterinary practice acts. It merely “mirrors” the current arrangements.

Without being prescriptive, the question is: what should be in the bill? I believe it should not just have modernised language to suit 2015 but that it should be a bill that is purpose written to address the current and future needs of the veterinary surgeons profession.

I believe the bill should at least contain high level objectives similar to those applying to medical practitioners, perhaps including: to provide for the protection of the public by ensuring that only veterinary surgeons who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered; to facilitate workforce mobility across Australia by reducing the administrative burden for veterinary surgeons wishing to move between participating jurisdictions or to practise in more than one participating jurisdiction; to facilitate the provision of high quality education and training of health practitioners; to facilitate the rigorous and responsive assessment of overseas-trained veterinary practitioners; to facilitate access to services provided by veterinary surgeons in accordance with the public interest; and to enable the continuous development of a flexible, responsive and sustainable Australian veterinary workforce.

This government has failed to address many of the needs of veterinary surgeons, who are an important profession and an important part of the business community in the territory. So the bill that is before us has some significant problems. It is a bill which creates a new 111-page act based on a stripped down version of an act that is going to be repealed. It is a bill that is riddled with complexity and contradictions. It is a bill about which the scrutiny committee raised significant issues. It is a bill that does not deliver the basic request of the profession that should be the subject of this bill. And it has tried and failed, in part at least, to resolve issues that have been outstanding since 2008.

Under most circumstances I would be inclined not to support such legislation, but we have consulted with industry and with the Veterinary Association, and we are aware that they support the need for stand-alone legislation despite the shortcomings of the legislation that will be passed today.

I think there is a recognition that this is not ideal but it is better than where we are. So on the understanding that this is a stopgap and a step towards a comprehensive review of the legislation, we will support the legislation today. But this could have been done a lot better, and I encourage the government to continue to work with industry to make sure that the legislation passed in this place provides the best framework for veterinary surgeons in the ACT.

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