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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 6 August 2015) . . Page.. 2427 ..

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (11.31), in reply: The issue of animal welfare is a matter close to my heart, as members know. In the last few years this Assembly has passed important and leading-edge legislation to protect animals. The recent passage of amendments to the Domestic Animals Act will change laws to protect both animals and consumers from the sins of intensive breeding of animals for the pet industry.

In addition, the Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill passed in 2014. It protects pigs and their offspring against the use of sow stalls and improves the environment for commercial egg producing hens by regulating the use of cages and in effect banning battery farming of eggs. These statutory changes are in step with community expectations.

No matter how the law supports the protection and wellbeing of animals, these initiatives would fail if the people who are specifically charged with the general wellbeing, health and care of sick and injured animals were not meeting the professional standards and behaviour of their calling as veterinary surgeons or, as they are more commonly known in the community, veterinarians.

The legislation we are discussing today, which I introduced in April, is the Veterinary Surgeons Bill 2015. This is the law which will allow for a body of peers to manage and provide regulatory and professional oversight of the profession in the territory.

As you will see in clause 6 of the bill, the first object of the legislation is the provision of veterinary services for the welfare and protection of animals. There is a common understanding that overseeing the work of veterinary surgeons is an important element in a rational decision to protect animals from harm.

In an era which actively encourages the reduction of government red tape and regulation, it may be challenging to think that regulation of the profession is necessary. However, one of the roles of government is to ensure that certain standards are met and, through regulation, reasonably mitigate risk where there is potential for harm. To this end, the second object of the act is that veterinary services are professionally and competently delivered.

Two areas of veterinary practice which are open to malpractice are the prescribed use of pharmaceutical drugs and the competent operation of dangerous equipment—for example, machines that use radiation and other potentially harmful processes. I do not want to dwell on the ways in which such access can be abused or recklessly dealt with, but veterinary surgeons are no different from other health practitioners in this regard. The great majority do not breach their duties or standards of professional care. But whether it is through mistake or carelessness, lack of training or diligence, or because of illness, things can, and unfortunately do, go wrong.

Public protection from the harm of such mistakes or deliberate breaches of professional standards is no less important than the potential harm to animals. The community, if through nothing else but their consumer rights, would expect that the

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