Page 1556 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

The Animal Diseases Bill is a new bill which contains the provisions, brought up to date, of the old Animal Diseases Act 1993, along with animal health provisions in the old Stock Act and the Pound Act. The new Animal Diseases Bill takes into account developments in animal health issues, such as the national livestock identification scheme and the banning of feeding of swill to livestock.

The key elements of the bill, as I have said, are the implementation of the national livestock identification scheme—the NLIS—which has already happened in most states and, most importantly for us, in the ACT and New South Wales. ACT rural lessees are keen that ACT legislation complies with and is compatible with New South Wales legislation, because most of the stock we purchase is purchased in New South Wales.

This bill will build on the existing system of tracking stock transaction, through the monitoring of ear tags, tail tags and brands, and lead to a single national scheme of stock identification. It will ban the feeding of swill to livestock and will ensure that the risk of diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is significantly reduced by eliminating the possibility of feeding animal matter to animals of the same species.

It also provides for a stock standstill in response to emergencies. For example, this could be used upon diagnosis of a foot and mouth disease outbreak, or if an outbreak is strongly suspected. It will reduce the vectors of transmission of the disease while the source and likely areas of infection are identified. It will also, very importantly, make an offence of suppressing evidence of any animal disease by attempting to sell, move, dispose of, bury or hide a diseased animal.

These are very important provisions that relate to the economic wellbeing of a sector of the ACT economy. In talking about animal diseases today, somebody commented to me that they are sure they interest somebody but that they do not interest that person. They interest me on behalf of ACT rural lessees, and these are very important provisions.

While the opposition generally supports the intent of the bills and we will be supporting them in principle, we have a few concerns about the operation of the bills. Our principal concern is the haste with which this has been brought on. These bills were introduced on 17 March and are being debated today. That seems like a reasonable time, except when we take into account all the public holidays and the short weeks. There were, in fact, 11 working days between the introduction of this bill and the Stock Bill, which goes with it and is being debated today.

There are close on 100 pages of legislation, and some of it looks pretty straightforward. On first reading you think, “That’s pretty straightforward; that’s not too bad.” But as you read it more than once, you find that there are questions. At this stage most of my concerns are questions which I have been attempting to obtain clarification on. If I could have obtained satisfactory answers, perhaps I would not be moving amendments here today.

In addition to my concerns, I did what I usually do when a piece of legislation comes up—I sent copies to people who might be interested. I sent copies of this piece of legislation to the ACT Rural Lessees Association, the conservation council and the

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .