Page 2428 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 August 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

profession is sensibly and properly regulated to achieve this outcome. This is underpinned by the third and final object of the act, which is to ensure that there are occupational discipline mechanisms for a veterinary surgeon found to have acted unprofessionally or incompetently.

As I covered in my introductory speech, the veterinary surgeons profession in the ACT is currently regulated under the Health Professionals Act 2004. The act covered all health professionals in the ACT until a new national scheme was introduced to regulate health professions, with the exception of veterinary surgeons. It is no longer appropriate that veterinary surgeons continue to be covered in the territory by the Health Professionals Act, which is now largely redundant legislation. With only one board, the Veterinary Surgeons Board, operating under the act, many of the act’s provisions—indeed, whole parts of the act—are no longer relevant or necessary. The Veterinary Surgeons Bill creates legislation which mirrors the current arrangements under which the board operates. It is improved by recognising only veterinary surgeons and by addressing the specifics of the current operation of the Veterinary Surgeons Board.

To return to the bill’s object of providing occupational discipline mechanisms, the occupational discipline process captured by the bill remains the same as that contained in the Health Professionals Act. As I stated when the bill was introduced, the Human Rights Commission, through the Health Services Commissioner function, continues to have a role in the review process relating to complaints; personal assessment and professional standards panels remain a feature of the system; and the role of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, ACAT, remains and includes a role in determining the removal or suspension of a registered veterinary surgeon.

As stated, the bill provides for a peer board to cover the regulation of veterinary surgeons. The board has seven members, and all except the community representatives are trained in veterinary science and are registered veterinary surgeons. Three of the members are elected by the membership of registered veterinary surgeons in the ACT. The other four members are appointed by the minister. Appointments include a specific appointment to the role of president and also to that of community representative. This arrangement reflects the current organisation of the board under the Health Professionals Act. The functions of the board also remain as they are, as do the powers and authority to make fees, approve forms and the like. The bill will not change the operation or scheme under which the board operates.

Other features of the bill provide that all resident veterinary surgeons must be registered; registered veterinary surgeons must have, and maintain, qualifications to practice; there are requirements for ensuring that the register of veterinary surgeons is accurate, up to date and available to the public; and terminology has been updated and provisions modernised to take account of current drafting styles. In addition, the bill repeals the Health Professionals Act 2004 and associated legislation as no longer being required to support a territory scheme for health professional regulation.

I would like to briefly touch on comments made by the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety in its legislative scrutiny role. I thank the committee for its comments. I trust these have been adequately addressed in my written

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video