Page 1192 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 10 May 2023
through an Expenditure Review Committee process. Such provisions will ensure that in the future there is transparency in relation to what compensation is payable and what compensation is not payable. At present, this is not the case and the ACT government is somewhat exposed.
Cost-recovery options are also featured in the bill for costs that are associated with authorisations issued under the bill and for action taken following noncompliance with the bill.
I have shared with you a sample of the extensive and comprehensive provisions set out in this bill, a bill that is much awaited and much needed. If we were to become lackadaisical in our approach, we could see new pests and diseases establishing in the ACT. It may not seem like a big deal, but just look at the varroa mite situation in New South Wales.
If varroa mite were to become established in Australia, this would have significant impacts on the honey bee and pollination industries. With around one-third of Australian food dependent on honey bee pollination, these industries represent approximately $14 billion per annum to the Australian economy.
If there were a multi-jurisdictional outbreak of foot-and-mouth, it is estimated that it could cost the Australian economy up to $80 billion. Trade restrictions would ensue that could last for years, and we would have to endure significant long-term social and other impacts across the country. As can be seen, this bill is not dealing with small-order things.
The territory is currently free from a range of animal and plant pests and diseases that are present in other parts of Australia and the world. For us to sustain an appropriate level of biosecurity protection into the future, the ACT biosecurity system must be fit for purpose. This includes being well positioned to embrace better risk management practices and options as they become available.
This is why in developing the bill consideration has been given to the complex mix of factors that would affect its powers and purpose. As I have outlined today, these factors include policy and operational needs in the face of a changing operating environment; our very own legislative frameworks and guidelines, including human rights; framing of offences and emergency management as well as legislative and system reforms introduced nationally and in other jurisdictions; our unique relationship with the New South Wales system; and, finally, our reputation and credibility not only in the eyes of the community and businesses wanting to operate in the ACT but also as a reliable partner within the national biosecurity system. It has been a monumental task to develop this bill, but it is one that will hold us in good stead long into the future.
The overall purpose of the bill is to provide the necessary legislative framework to support the ACT biosecurity system in protecting the ACT environment, economy and community from current and emerging biosecurity risks and challenges. The biosecurity bill as drafted that I am proposing today provides a strong, progressive legislative framework to fulfill that purpose. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Cain) adjourned to the next sitting.