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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 1045..


MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.05): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

In June 2003 the government announced a three-year moratorium on the commercial release of GM food crops for marketing purposes, and foreshadowed the introduction of legislation to give effect to this policy position. To this end an exposure draft of the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Bill 2003 was released in December 2003 for public comment. Release of the bill as an exposure draft enabled the government to undertake broad consultation with primary producers, consumers, industry groups, and researchers on the proposed regulatory scheme. No major changes have been made to the bill as a result of this consultation process. The bill creates a legislative framework for the prohibition of the commercial production of certain genetically modified food crops in the territory for a period of three years.

The government is not opposed to GM crops, but is prepared to intervene for marketing purposes. The proposed legislation has a sunset clause and is to be in effect for three years from June 2003, with provision for annual review in light of trade and marketing developments. The moratorium will sunset on 17 June 2006. This clause will provide time for the ACT community to evaluate the potential marketing impacts both locally and internationally of the introduction of genetically modified food crops on the territory's non-genetically modified food crops. The bill will enable the government to prohibit the cultivation in the ACT of a specified GM food plant or class of GM food plants. This will be done by ministerial order if it is believed necessary to protect the territory's markets for conventional crops, and to protect our reputation as a clean, green source of agricultural products.

The legislation will make it an offence to knowingly cultivate a GM food crop if an order has been issued banning the cultivation of that crop, and will allow substantial penalties to be imposed. Under a moratorium order, the minister may specifically exempt from prohibition any field trials or contained research involving a plant for which a moratorium order has been issued. This will enable the highly valued research endeavours of scientists in the ACT GM biotechnology sector to continue unhindered. I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Health Professionals Legislation Amendment Bill 2004

Mr Corbell , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.08): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

As members of the Assembly would be aware, the Health Professionals Bill 2003 was introduced on 19 December 2003, and will be debated in the Assembly during the third


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