Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Regulated Professions (Health and Social Care) (Amendment) Bill 2019: Committee Stage
As with the previous set of amendments, we had quite a discussion on this here and in the other House. This is similar to the High Court confirmation of minor sanctions. Senators will recall that concerns were raised in this House about the mandatory publication of minor sanctions. It was suggested in particular that this measure would have a disproportionate impact on those receiving even the most minor of sanctions. I was therefore asked by this House to consult with key stakeholders such as those I mentioned earlier, including regulators and representative bodies. I have now decided to introduce amendments to provide that the publication of minor sanctions will be subject to a public interest test to be applied by the regulator. This will allow regulators to exercise their discretion and to publish information relating to minor sanctions only where they are satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so. Again, I am very pleased to say these proposed changes have been welcomed by the representative bodies and are considered, I think, to be a balanced approach to the treatment of minor sanctions. When this group of amendments is read with the previous group in the context of the removal of the need to go to the High Court for confirmation, plus the removal of the provision for mandatory publication of a minor sanction and its replacement with a public interest test, this is a more proportionate and balanced approach.