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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 1327..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Further amendments to the Plant Diseases Act in the bill deal with two further issues. The first relates to the power vested in the minister to give directions in relation to diseases or pests. The existing provision, section 13, gives power to order treatment or destruction of affected plants and other materials. It is being replaced with a much broader directions power modelled on that already in the Animal Diseases Act.

The most important feature is the power to restrict movement of goods, vehicles and people on and off an affected property. This can be used to control the spread of the disease or pest in between its detection and the making of a formal quarantine declaration. While this period may be only a matter of hours, in some circumstances it would be critical.

The results from Operation Minotaur have highlighted the problems that can arise from any delay in the quarantine declaration coming into effect. They pointed to the need for a broader directions power akin to that in the Animal Diseases Act.

The final matter dealt with by the bill is to make the offences in the Plant Diseases Act compliant with the Criminal Code. The code came into effect this year and will apply to the offences in the act. The bill makes it clear that a number of offences in the bill are strict liability offences. These are not lightly put forward. The reasons for making each of these offences strict liability is set out in the corresponding part of the explanatory statement.

Finally, the bill removes references to "reasonable excuse"in a number of the offences in the Plant Diseases Act. Part 2.3 of the Criminal Code 2002 provides for an extensive series of defences that will be available to defendants in prosecution under these offences, including mental impairment, intoxication, mistake of fact, intervening conduct or event, emergency and duress. These defences provide an adequate range of defences for the relevant offences, and there is no need to explicitly provide for reasonable excuse.

Mr Speaker, I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Dunne ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Administration and Procedure-Standing Committee

Membership

Motion (by Mrs Dunne ) agreed to:

That Mrs Dunne be discharged from attending the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure on 6 May 2003 and Mr Stefaniak be appointed in her place.

Community Services and Social Equity-Standing Committee

Report No 2-government response

Debate resumed from 21 November 2002, on motion by Mr Wood:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.


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