This speech is to indicate the Liberal Party's support for the Chiropractic And Osteopathy Practice Bill.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I rise to address this issue on behalf of Liberal members. Just to recap on this bill, it is one of a range that has been reviewed as part of competition policy requirements. I think that as we are proceeding with all of the professional services bills, we will refine the process, and I have noticed that each time there are ever fewer amendments, so I am sure that it will have a smooth passage. A number of issues that were raised in the House of Assembly, I understand, have been resolved. I am grateful to the representatives of the board and the Chiropractors Association. As yet, I have not spoken to the Osteopaths Association, but I would like to do so prior to us moving into committee. I would like to state that I will do my best to allow this bill to have a relatively quick passage through.
A number of the provisions are repeated from previous bills that we have dealt with of this nature, namely the medical practitioners bill and the nurses bill. We have dealt with the podiatrists and the physiotherapists bills more recently. One of the significant things in this bill is that it recognises osteopaths as their own profession. I think that one of the strengths of having separate bills for each of these professions is the acknowledgment that they have their own origins and, in some ways, their own philosophies which have led to their development within our community. As a physiotherapist—I have made this point before in relation to other bills—I admit that I would not see myself as being in a fit position to judge the professional standards or otherwise of other professions. In particular, physios and chiropractors are sometimes seen in the community as rival groups and that really arises from the fact that chiropractors' philosophy comes from a different area to physios which is very much on what they call the medical model, although I think that in the last two decades there has been more crossover than previously.
The bill will set up separate registers for chiropractors and osteopaths as distinct professions, which I think is important to them. The board membership and the balance of the board have been issues in previous bills. I note that this has been resolved in the sense that there will be four elected chiroprac¬tors, one osteopath and the membership of the board to include a range of other people including a legal practitioner, a medical practitioner and two other persons who are not either legal practitioners, medical practitioners, chiropractors or osteopaths. In that sense, in a similar way, this board will have a majority of its own profession on the board. I had raised, and I noticed that it did not come up in the debate in the House of Assembly, that both the board and the associa¬tion stated that they were not in favour of having a require¬ment that there be a medical practitioner on the board. There is some belief that, if a medical practitioner were to be retained, this would be the only such board in Australia that is in that situation.
It has been suggested to me that there is an historical rationale for that; that a medical practitioner was required to advise of malpractice regarding `adjustments'. However, the profession does not believe that medical practitioners are necessarily in a position to judge whether or not that is so, and they have suggested that, instead of a medical practitioner being stated in the legislation, it be another health profession¬al—which could, if that was the minister's choice, be a medical practitioner. So, I put that on notice as something for the government to perhaps reply to at a later stage.
Again, there are provisions for conflicts of interest, complaints and the registration of students. I notice in the minister's report that there is a reference to insurance which says:
. . . providers will be required to be insured, in a manner and to an extent approved by the board, against civil liabilities that might be incurred in connection with the provision of chiropractic or osteopathy or proceedings under part 4 of the bill.
I wonder whether the government might actually locate that for me and advise whether it is likely to be an internal policy of the board.
Also inserted in here is an identical definition of `restrict¬ed therapy', which is what in physiotherapy is called `manipulation' and what in chiropractic or osteopathy is called `adjustment', relating to spinal column movements beyond their normal physiological range. Also, in `restricted therapy' I understand there is the use of electro-therapeutic equipment—that might actually be the wrong word, but electrical equipment. I am also unsure what dangers those particular machines might pose. As I stated the other day on the Physiotherapy Practice Bill, our machines are quite dangerous and in some ways pose the greatest risk because they are used so frequently, and I am glad that the government has decided to take that on board and try to find some way through that, but I would like to question whether that is also an issue for chiropractors.
As I said, I think most of the issues have been ad¬dressed—for instance, relating to the balance of the board and the concern that exists in the profession that fringe groups might potentially take it over, which has been addressed through the casual vacancy amendments that passed in the other place. I am sure that travelling sporting teams are also being dealt with through the regulations, as per the Physio¬therapy Practice Bill. With those brief remarks, I indicate support for the bill.