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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3393 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

necessary, the best way to prevent animal plant disease is to have a solid working relationship with those who might be affected.

The real way to prevent the outbreak of disease is to work closely with farmers in particular, as well as with other businesses that might be relevant, such as nurseries or soil businesses, to ensure they are helping in the fight to prevent disease. Ensuring that stakeholders are informed of the correct procedures, the features or signs of diseases or pests they should be aware of, and knowing their responsibilities under legislation will be a far better way to manage disease control than threatening people with offences when a disease control situation breaks out.

When we debated similar legislation in the past-specifically in relation to plant diseases-I raised concerns about the powers of inspectors. The responsible minister at the time-Minister Wood-indicated that there would be a review of the powers of inspectors under these pieces of legislation. I note we are still waiting for the outcome of that review.

While I do not see it necessary to hold up debate on this piece of legislation while we await the outcome of the review of the inspectors' powers, I would like reassurance today-perhaps the minister responsible could mention it in his closing speech-that this review is taking place, that it is being done in a timely manner and that we can have a consolidated report on the powers of our inspectors.

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! There are a couple of conversations going on. Ms Dundas has the floor.

MS DUNDAS: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In closing, I would like reassurance that this review is taking place in a timely manner and that we can have the information brought before this Assembly as to how inspectors are operating, the powers they have, how we can better make sure that our inspectors are working in line with legislation, and that it is consistent across the territory.

MS TUCKER (4.36): This bill allows for the immediate implementation of quarantine declarations made by the minister, rather than requiring those declarations to be processed in the usual way of disallowable instruments which would, on occasion, prove too slow.

Plant and animal diseases can have a massive impact on our industry and our environment, given the rapidly changing face of our ecology, the loss of biodiversity, the increasing vulnerability of commercial monocultures, and the capacity of viruses to travel almost instantly across the globe. All these accentuate the need to act quickly with regard to restricting movements, destroying plants or animals, or imposing restrictions on imports-and the threat may be increasing.

The proposed use of genetically modified organisms to eliminate feral animals, such as possums in New Zealand and rabbits in Australia, could have massive consequences in the country of origin-to possums and other marsupials in Australia, for example.

In this bill, the minister is simply required to ensure that the notice is broadcast by television or radio. If we need to act swiftly, then simply advising the population through

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