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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2324 ..

The bill amends the Children and Young People Act 1999 to allow other magistrates to hear Children's Court matters if the Children's Court Magistrate is sitting, in specific circumstances. The government fully expects that the Children's Court Magistrate will continue to hear the vast majority of Children's Court matters, and remains committed to the concept of a specialist magistrate. These amendments should not be seen as a move away from that commitment. Rather, they are designed to ensure that the system works more efficiently, without long delays, and is more responsive to the needs of the children and young persons who come before the court.

As with previous portfolio bill amendments, the government is confident that they will lead to more accessible and up-to-date legislation. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Plant Diseases Bill 2002

Mr Wood , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (11.50): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, it is my pleasure to bring to the Assembly today a bill to reform the ACT's legislation for regulation of plant diseases and pests. The impetus for reform of the Plant Diseases Act 1934 has come out of the national competition policy review of that act. The review found that there were some provisions in the act and regulations that did not meet the public benefit test, and there were numerous other issues requiring reform to make it more relevant and effective.

The government has opted to move away from the prescriptive regime of the existing act to a more outcomes-based approach. Fruit and vegetable producers will be free to deal with disease and pest issues that affect their plants as they see fit. However, the government will retain the power to intervene to ensure that appropriate action is taken to control the establishment and spread of plant diseases and pests, should it be necessary to protect the fruit and vegetable industry. The bill will allow imposition of quarantines, restriction of imports, and the making of orders for treatment or destruction of plants or goods to prevent the establishment or spread of plant diseases and pests.

There are a few important features of this bill which I draw to the attention of the Assembly for their consideration. Members will note that there is no provision in the bill for appeal from the decision to impose quarantine on a property, or the decision to issue an order for the treatment or destruction of plants. Providing for an appeal, and the necessary mechanisms for a stay of the quarantine or order, will mean that the objective of preventing the establishment or spread of a disease would be seriously compromised. In many instances, the quarantine must be imposed immediately, and the work to treat or destroy the goods in question must be carried out expeditiously in order to prevent the spread of a disease or pest. This is particularly so in the case of viral and fungal diseases. I might add that this approach is broadly equivalent to that taken in New South Wales.

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