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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3215..

MR WOOD (continuing):

The bill contains appropriate enforcement and penalty provisions for offences where there is a failure to comply with an order, including, but not limited to, powers of entry and inspection, powers of seizure and destruction, and powers to order testing. It is a good bill, and I am appreciative of the promised support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 6, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 7.

MS DUNDAS (9.03): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 8 at page 3246].

Mr Speaker, this amendment is designed to broaden the scope of moratorium orders and ensure that genetically modified food crops cannot fall through the gaps of such moratorium orders. This amendment is based on the legislation used by other states, such as Western Australia, to introduce their moratoriums. The New South Wales legislation, on which this bill is based, is generally regarded as the weakest form of moratorium enabling legislation among the states. Unlike legislation in other jurisdictions, this legislation would require the ACT government to list each and every genetically modified food crop that it wishes to ban separately.

If the ACT misses a new GMO, or an instrument is not properly made, or the ACT suddenly decides that it will allow a new GMO to be planted, the bill before us will not stop the crop actually being planted at whim. In contrast, other jurisdictions have employed an opt-out system where the moratorium order covers all genetically modified food crops, regardless of whether they have been identified by the government. In fact, it includes those that may not even have been invented yet.

This amendment seeks to give the government that option. However, in line with other states, it does not compel the minister to do so. If this amendment passes, I would like to see the minister immediately declare the entirety of the ACT GM free by designating it an area where no GM food crop may be cultivated. The minister could then use the exemption system currently in the bill, as necessary, for the CSIRO to conduct field trials. However, the option remains open to cover different areas of the ACT with different moratorium orders or to list a GMO separately.

This amendment would not restrict the minister's powers under the act. Instead, it actually expands them and gives the minister a greater variety of tools. It does not prevent the minister from doing anything that is not in the existing version of the bill; nor does it require him to do anything in addition. What it does do is give the ACT government more extensive powers to make moratorium orders to protect the ACT from unwanted GMOs. If other jurisdictions can take this precautionary approach to GM food

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