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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3392 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

Operation Minotaur-a national foot and mouth simulation held last year-quite rightly brought to our notice that diseases such as foot and mouth disease, various viral diseases and plant diseases, do not wait for the Legislation Act to come into effect, and that sometimes actions need to be taken more quickly. The principal elements of this bill are to ensure that a declaration can come into effect immediately it is signed, so long as efforts are made to notify the public through radio and television.

The other elements of this legislation bring the Plant Diseases Act into compliance with the criminal code. The Plant Diseases Act is also brought into concert with the Animal Diseases Act, which will allow for temporary quarantining if an animal disease is discovered-and before an order can be made. There are also amendments to the Plant Diseases Act which will make breaching of quarantine a strict liability offence.

These are all measures the Liberal opposition considers important to maintain the integrity of our agricultural industries, and we will be supporting them. I have conducted consultation with rural lessees and some veterinary organisations and am satisfied that this bill meets the requirements.

I understand there is concern about the broadcasting elements of the bill and whether, as it is currently drafted, there is sufficient effort being made to broadcast the fact that the quarantine order comes into effect immediately. However, we will deal with that in the detail stage.

MS DUNDAS (4.32): The ACT Democrats will be supporting this bill today. The issue of disease prevention and control has the capacity to impact on all Australians. We only have to look at the panics which have broken out over the spread of diseases, such as CJD, in the European beef industry to see the social and economic devastation which can occur if diseases or pests are not prevented from spreading.

While the amount of land available for agricultural development in the ACT is small, we still have a role to play in disease control for the surrounding region. Exercise Minotaur was a disease prevention simulation coordinated across Australia for foot and mouth disease control. I believe the amendments contained in this bill are largely the result of that exercise. I am happy to support the changes to the specific functioning to disallowable instruments in this bill.

The other major changes contained within this bill are about implementing the criminal code in application to the Plant Diseases Act. The changes stemming from the implementation of the criminal code are largely technical and alter the wording for offences under the act.

While I have no specific problems with the new phrasing of offences in the Plant Diseases Act, I note that simply legislating for tough penalties for ignoring disease control laws does not make for a better system of management. The purpose of creating offences is to correct and punish those who have broken the law. However, this does not necessarily prevent laws being broken, as the number of cases in our law courts demonstrates.

The point I am making is that prevention is much better than punishment, and while these offences may help ACT officials in implementing disease control operations if

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