The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:42): I rise on behalf of the Greens today to speak briefly in support of the Veterinary Services Bill. Veterinarians are an integral part of our community. Indeed, they are an integral part of this council at the moment. Not only do they care for our companion animals but they also do crucial work in managing public health and quarantine systems.
As the minister has explained, the bill before us seeks to address needed changes in our veterinary practice legislation, addressing significant changes to the industry, including practice models, employment and specialties offered. It is therefore necessary that we update this legislation to better support the health, safety and welfare of our animals along with helping address the shortage of veterinarians currently faced by our state of South Australia.
One of the major benefits of this bill is the inclusion of a transition program for returning veterinarians. Getting back to work after a break or keeping up to date with modern practices is important for building self-confidence, increasing social connections and recovering from an illness or injury. Providing a clear and transparent pathway for returning veterinarians is an example of good employment practices and will accommodate those who have had a career break, no matter what the reason.
The bill also enables the entry of graduates to the profession upon completion of their degrees to be fast-tracked. The Greens look forward to seeing the transition from study to practice improve. It is in the interests of all veterinarians that the profession be regulated. It ensures that the public can have confidence when they receive services from registered veterinary professionals. Additionally, this bill introduces requirements for skills-based appointments on the veterinary services regulatory board without compromising on the composition of the board having a focus on professional veterinarians.
Additionally, introducing the publication of appointments will also contribute to improved transparency and credibility of the complaints process in preventing conflicts of interest. The Greens welcome in particular the modification of the complaints process, removing SACAT as a possible avenue through which the public might directly seek recourse. It is important that the lower tier of unsatisfactory professional conduct should focus on correcting the conduct. This is better done through the board rather than taking up the resources of the tribunal.
This bill is strongly supported by the Australian Veterinary Association, and we acknowledge the commitment of the government and the opposition to both stakeholder and public consultation through this long legislative process. I note that there will be amendments that have already been foreshadowed by the Liberal opposition. Certainly the Greens will take them under due consideration and are favourable towards them on first blush and look forward to the opinion of stakeholders such as the AVA on those matters as we progress this bill.