Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3751 ..
MRS DUNNE (5.49): The Liberal opposition will be supporting these amendments, but I have to put on the record that they have been brought about by a storm in a teacup. There has been a general misunderstanding in this place of what is meant by this provision. It is not a media strategy; it is a commencement trigger. The media strategy is elsewhere in the emergency management plan. Members, quite rightly, may have concerns about the media strategy in the emergency management plan, but we are not debating the media strategy today.
We ended up adjourning the debate on this bill in August because, on reflection, Ms Tucker's amendments were far too complex. I would have been quite happy for the provision to have stayed the way it was in the bill originally drafted because it is only a trigger. In fact, it is a much more onerous trigger in many ways than the normal trigger for a commencement for a disallowable instrument, because we do not normally tell the media when we have made a disallowable instrument.
Most people do not know that the legislation register exists. Therefore, it is alien and unavailable to them. We are doing here something which is much more onerous and, in a sense, I have doubts about whether it should be done, because if we are facing Newcastle disease, foot and mouth disease or something like wheat streak mosaic virus, we need to act quickly, and that is what this will enable us to do.
Mr Speaker, this is not the media strategy. Can we get it right? We have been through several iterations of amendments and at one stage we were going to have an enormously complicated process with regulations that would name all the media outlets in the ACT, which I said that I would not agree to. That would place too much responsibility on officials because, if it goes out of date, the whole system would become unworkable. We are trying here to make the notification system workable so that we can respond to a situation that might arise-Lord help us if it does-if we ever have an outbreak of foot and mouth disease or a whole lot of other diseases, such as Newcastle disease, and we need to act responsibly.
We need to say again that this is not a media strategy. We also need to say to the Chief Minister that on this occasion, as on any other occasion when we activate the emergency management plan, there should be a media strategy, but that has been addressed by Mr McLeod in another context. I hope, seeing that the Chief Minister has said that he is taking on the recommendations of Mr McLeod, that they are modifying the media strategy so that it does work better.
We are in support of this recommendation that creates a trigger for the commencement of a disallowable instrument.
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (5.52): I take the opportunity to thank the members who participated in the preparation of these amendments. It was a very constructive process, Mr Speaker, and I thank Mrs Dunne, Ms Tucker and Ms Dundas for their support and assistance in the way in which these amendments were developed.
The government has negotiated these amendments and is accepting of them. That was not our preferred position. To some extent, Mrs Dunne has touched on some of the