Page 1191 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 10 May 2023

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Notably, these legislative reforms will mean that we will no longer be a weak link in the national biosecurity system.

The bill strengthens provisions for current and future biosecurity traceability schemes. It introduces a registration scheme for managing biosecurity risks associated with certain biosecurity matter or dealings—for example, the keeping of bees. It maintains the provisions for the National Livestock Identification Scheme but it also recognises that, as the livestock scheme evolves, further legislative amendments will be needed. So, as New South Wales has done, we are including these provisions in the regulations rather than in the bill itself.

Other provisions in the bill have been drafted to enhance options for certification, accreditation, permits, authorisations and audits. As an example, this includes a class of person permits to be issued. These permits would allow activities and dealings that would otherwise contravene the legislation to be undertaken under specific terms and conditions.

Another interesting feature worth highlighting is accreditation for third-party schemes. These schemes are evolving and are expected to become more commonplace in the future. Accrediting third-party certifiers will allow businesses that operate in the ACT to self-certify consignments to interstate markets under national self-certification schemes. An existing example of this sort of arrangement is the Interstate Certification Assurance Scheme. This scheme has been operating successfully for over 25 years and has significantly reduced administrative burdens on governments.

This whole bill focuses on early intervention and recognises the need for a robust enforcement system. Biosecurity is not about mopping up things after the event and saying that you have been a naughty person. The stakes are too high in this game. The bill establishes a new criminal law scheme with significant high penalties, alongside the powers of access enforcement and the powers to compel information to deal with a biosecurity risk. This also includes strict liability offences, executive liability offences and alternative penalties such as remediation orders and prohibition orders.

These provisions are there to deter parties from contravening the legislation. They also will give us some protection against the ACT perversely becoming a dumping ground for biosecurity matter, given our provisions are less stringent than those of other jurisdictions. Yet, as a human rights jurisdiction, our legislation also includes safeguards to ensure that powers granted by the bill are commensurate with need established through a biosecurity risk-based framework.

These are some of the key elements of the bill that will help strengthen and support our biosecurity system. But there are also other aspects which relate to revenue and financial implications which have been revised and refined to provide greater clarity and transparency.

They include provisions for the payment of compensation for certain losses. These payments will be made in accordance with the national emergency response agreements which the ACT is party to or where there is no applicable agreement, in accordance with a statutory compensation scheme subject to the ACT government policy agreement

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