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Veterinary Bill modernises profession

17 February 2005 Media Statement

Veterinary Bill modernises profession

The Veterinarians Bill, which had its first reading in Parliament today, marks a more modern governance of the veterinary profession, says Associate Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

The Bill repeals and replaces the Veterinarians Act 1994 and provides for a more flexible governance structure.

One main change is with registration. "We've made registration in New Zealand easier for overseas-trained vets, which will mean more vets practicing here, " Mr O'Connor said.

"Currently only those holding a five-year veterinary science degree from recognised institutions are eligible for registration in New Zealand. The Bill will mean overseas veterinarians with four-year vet science degrees from non-recognised institutions are able to apply for registration.

"This is a significant move, particularly given the vet shortages that many parts of New Zealand have experienced in recent years. The shortages have posed real problems for the agriculture industry, which relies heavily on the maintenance of animal health and welfare. They've also led to pressure on the profession. This Bill will assist in solving those acute shortages."

The Bill also gives the Veterinary Council wider options when dealing with complaints. New provisions will better align the Council's disciplinary powers to the seriousness of offences, and will allow it to impose penalties similar to those contained in the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act 2003.

"These changes will ensure veterinarians practice to high standards," Mr O'Connor said, "which in turn will mean members of the public can continue to have total confidence in the profession."

ENDS

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