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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 7 April 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1567 ..

not we are actually tackling an outbreak of a terrible disease like foot-and-mouth disease, BSE or avian flu—if it ever got here, heaven help us—or newcastle disease, which has happened in the past.

It just seems that these provisions are unnecessarily draconian and do not actually go to the heart of the issue that we are addressing. We should be winding back our reliance on strict liability offences and should not be using them as a means of bureaucrats “besting” people in times of adversity. Therefore, I would commend the amendments to the house.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (5.35): The government will oppose the amendments. I think the amendments, suggesting that it should not be an offence or a strict liability offence if a person deliberately alters an approved tag, to some extent reflect a rather blase attitude to the potential impact of, say, foot-and-mouth disease or mad cow disease in Australia. The whole scheme at the base of the legislation is that we have, to the extent that we can possibly achieve it under the national livestock identification system, a scheme that allows every single animal to be identified and tracked.

In order to do that, every animal will be tagged with an approved tag, and we have made it an offence to deliberately alter an approved tag. The Liberal Party believes that the system could be corrupted to that extent. Imagine the consequences of that: a tag on a particular animal is removed and altered and used on another animal. Just imagine the extent to which that corrupts the national identification system—corrupts it completely, absolutely corrupts a system designed to protect Australia against the spread of, say, foot-and-mouth or mad cow disease in the nation.

The Liberal Party does not think that it is serious enough to be regarded as a serious offence. I am absolutely flabbergasted that the Liberal Party would adopt such a blasé attitude to the possibility or the prospect of not having the level of control or management of an outbreak of, say, foot-and-mouth disease—heaven forbid—or mad cow disease that provisions such as this are designed to prevent.

The offence is to deliberately alter an approved tag, a tag that is used to identify a particular animal under a national scheme of livestock identification, to ensure that we know at all times the history of a particular animal. It is fundamental to the scheme and it is fundamental that it be regarded and acknowledged as a serious offence. Similarly, clause 51 states:

(1) A person who is issued a tag number commits an offence if—

(b) the person fails to destroy each tag with the number as soon as practicable after being told about the cancellation.

Once again, it is the same issue. It is the same issue around the importance of ensuring that every step is taken to guarantee that the national livestock identification system is not corrupted. Mrs Dunne gave an example of tags lying around and becoming confused as between animals. That is the whole point of the system: you cannot just pick up a tag that you find lying on the ground, because you did not bother to destroy it, and then attach it to another animal on the basis that it might have lost its tag and you cannot be bothered chasing it up. Just imagine the mayhem and the confusion—and the danger that

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