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Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Page: 13534


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyMinister for Health) (19:28): I thank members for their contributions to the debate on this bill. The bill makes minor amendments to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 to correct referencing inconsistencies and improve the readability of the act. The bill also amends the Health Insurance Act 1973 in relation to specialist trainees. It is the government's policy to increase access to high-quality clinical training capacity for all medical professionals by working closely with states and territories, funding additional training capacity and facilitating innovative and flexible training models. The proposed legislation takes an innovative training arrangement that has been available to trainee specialists from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and expands it so that trainee specialists from all recognised medical colleges have access. The legislation permits a trainee specialist from any recognised medical college to conduct a procedure under the direct supervision of a specialist in a private setting and have that service attract a Medicare rebate for the supervising surgeon. The procedure will be considered to have been performed by the supervising surgeon, who will retain the right to any bulk-billed Medicare benefits in relation to the procedure. This further expands the country's training capacity for specialists, at a time when clinical training capacity for all health professionals in our health system is under significant stress, and it does so with no additional cost to the government.

The bill will make changes to section 41C of the Human Services (Medicare) Act 1973, the Medicare act, and these are being progressed to ensure that Medicare Locals and other bodies seeking to use the term 'Medicare' are able to apply for an authorisation to use the term without breaching the Medicare act. Medicare Locals will help to drive improvements in Australia's primary healthcare system. Medicare Locals have been established through a staged implementation process, with all Medicare Locals now having commenced operations, the final ones by 1 July 2012. The government is aware that there are a range of views about the use of the name 'Medicare Local', and I want to thank the member for Lyne for his thoughtful contribution in that regard. I am pleased to advise the House that a national evaluation of Medicare Locals, already planned to start early next year, will consider the degree to which the name 'Medicare Local' is suitable for its purpose. Provisions will be made for the evaluator to specifically look at community acceptance of the name.

Finally, the bill will make changes to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989. The objective of the minor technical amendments to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act is to correct an inaccurate description of how chemicals are kept under control of Customs during transshipment. The proposed amendment allows industry to utilise more short-term storage options, while maintaining health and safety. It does not place any restriction on competition and does not place any additional requirements on business. I would like to acknowledge the support of stakeholders for the proposed amendment.

I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.