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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 1326 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

emerging industries, whereas in the past contracts of training were confined to specific trades only.

I am especially pleased that a representative of indigenous interests has been added to the Vocational Education and Training Authority membership.

Mr Speaker, I commend this bill to members for their consideration.

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

Animal and Plant Diseases Amendment Bill 2003

Mr Stanhope , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (11.03): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I bring to the Assembly today a bill to amend the Animal Diseases Act 1993 and the Plant Diseases Act 2002. These two acts set out the powers of the government to deal with the outbreak of animal and plant diseases. While their details differ, they have in common powers to declare quarantines within the territory and to impose restrictions on imports from other places in Australia should it become necessary to prevent the outbreak of disease or to control the spread of a disease.

The diseases in question include foot and mouth disease, which can have devastating economic and social consequences. It is important that the procedures and powers in the legislation are effective and appropriate to the task.

The main thrust of this bill is to address an issue with commencement of quarantine declarations (and other declarations that support them). This issue came to light during the national foot and mouth disease simulation run last year, called Operation Minotaur.

These acts provide that the quarantine declarations made by the minister are disallowable in this place. In the normal course of events, this will mean that there is at least 12 hours delay between a quarantine declaration being signed and its coming into effect, and more usually over 24 hours delay. With many diseases, such as foot and mouth disease and some viral plant diseases, every hour of delay means significantly greater risk of spread of the disease. It is therefore highly desirable to minimise the time between the recognition that a quarantine is required and when it comes into effect.

The proposal in the bill takes a leaf from the Emergency Management Act and the power to declare a state of emergency. When it is considered necessary to control a disease, a quarantine declaration can be made to commence immediately it is made. Notice of the declaration must then be broadcast on radio or television. As a matter of good administration, further steps would be taken to inform people most likely to be affected, such as the rural community and those who trade in affected goods.

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