represents not only an interesting case study in the development of a national approach to regulation within a federal legal system, but also an example of polycentric regulation given the complex and multilayered nature of health practitioner regulation in Australia. The article analyses the NRAS within the broader regulatory context for health practitioner regulation and the administration of public regulation more generally, and explores the challenges posed by polycentric regulation within a federal system.The authors comment
On 1 July 2010, a new national model for registration and accreditation of Australian health practitioners began operation. The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (‘NRAS’) was developed with the agreement of all the state and territory Ministers for Health. The NRAS initially encompassed 10 health professions — with an additional four professions included in the Scheme since 2012 and a fifth soon to join. National Boards were established for each regulated profession, and the Scheme is governed by new legislation: the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (‘National Law’), contained in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (Qld). The National Law was initially introduced in, and adopted by, the Queensland Parliament. It was then adopted, in some cases with amendments, in each Australian state and territory under an applied laws approach or, in the case of Western Australia (‘WA’), through the enactment of mirror legislation.
The development of a national approach to registration and accreditation of health practitioners in Australia represents an interesting case study in the development of a national approach to regulation within a federal legal system. However, the Scheme is also situated within a broader regulatory context for both health practitioner regulation and the administration of public regulation more generally. Considered in this context, the Scheme can be seen as an example of ‘polycentric’ regulation, where the regulatory landscape is populated by an increasingly complex array of regulatory bodies, agencies and objectives.
This article analyses the national regulation of health practitioners in Australia in terms of the move towards a national system of regulation and the polycentric setting of that system. Part II addresses the polycentric nature of health practitioner regulation in Australia. Part III provides the background to the Scheme from the original recommendations of the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission in 2005, through to the simplification of legislation governing health practitioner regulation in Australia with the enactment of the National Law. Part IV discusses: the national approach to legislation through use of an applied laws approach; the impact of the retention of a co-regulatory approach in New South Wales (‘NSW’) and its introduction in Queensland; and the potential for regulatory innovation under both the previous state-based approach to regulation and under the new national approach. Part V revisits polycentric regulation by examining its implications for regulators, governments and the public.