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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3199..


Suspension of standing and temporary orders

Motion (by Mr Wood ) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent order of the day No 14, Private Members' business, relating to the GMO (Environment Protection) Bill 2003, being called on.

Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Bill 2004

[Cognate bill:

GMO (Environment Protection) Bill 2003]

Debate resumed from 11 March 2004, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to have a cognate debate with private members business order of the day No 14? There being no objection, that course will be followed. When order of the day No 14 is called on, members, if driven to do so, will be able to speak again. This is a cognate debate. When speaking to the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Bill 2004, members should keep in mind that they can also speak to private members' business order of the day No 14, GMO (Environment Protection) Bill 2003.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (8.03): The opposition will be supporting this bill. Its purpose is to enable the government to prohibit, for a period of three years, the commercial cultivation of specified genetically modified food crops in the ACT. Unlike the Greens' bill, there is no wholesale moratorium. This bill allows the cultivation of genetically modified crops unless the minister specifically intervenes with a moratorium on a particular GM crop in order to preserve the identity of other crops, either genetically modified or non-genetically modified for marketing purposes. The moratorium is a disallowable instrument. If a moratorium is imposed it would cease no later than 17 June 2006-three years from the date of announcement of the moratorium and the release of the exposure draft of the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Bill 2003.

However, I note the amendment proposed by Ms Dundas to give the minister the authority to repeal the act after 17 June 2006, subject to disallowance of the Assembly. We will support that amendment because it does allow legislation to remain in force if circumstances require it.

Basically the bill is aimed at larger scale field trials-that is, commercial quantities-and is designed not to apply to the plant breeding and experiments in trial plots conducted by the CSIRO and possibly any new biotechnology investor in the ACT. Indeed, in order to ensure that biotechnology research is not threatened, the bill provides for exemption from the moratorium order of any field trials or contained research of the sort conducted by the CSIRO and similar research bodies.

Importantly, the bill complements Commonwealth legislation and is consistent with New South Wales legislation. And of course New South Wales surrounds us. Being an island


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