Page 1570 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005

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I think it is worth quoting from page 3 of scrutiny report 6, where the scrutiny committee refers to previous decisions in relation to people’s right to a fair trial. Quoting Mr Justice Kirby, it says:

Everyone has the right to have criminal charges, and rights and obligations recognised by law, decided by a competent, independent and impartial court or tribunal after a fair and public hearing.

That is why I have proposed a small number of amendments to address some of the more egregious strict liability offences in here. As I said, I also have a few concerns about the disposal of stock after impounding. I thought that some of the provisions in clause 39 were a little onerous for stock owners because it basically says that, once stock have been impounded and the owner identified, they must collect the stock within 14 days or the chief executive must sell the stock.

I understand the rationale behind that and have discussed changing the “must” to “may”. I understand the reasons why we do not do that, but I would like to provide some leeway. Take the example someone who owns the stock and who is out on a stock route; there might be a drought, and most of the stock is a long way away. They are rung by somebody in the ACT who says, “You’ve got 14 days to collect your stock.” They say, “Gee, I am in Gulargambone; I can’t get back to collect my stock in 14 days. Can I have a bit of leeway?” As it currently stands, there is no leeway. The chief executive will sell the stock and the stock owner will bear the cost of that. I would like to provide some leeway. There is an amendment to address that issue.

Generally speaking, as I said, the opposition is supportive of this legislation. Generally, I think it is good legislation; it is an improvement; it makes life easier; and it is important that there is consistency across the jurisdictions. That very important issue was raised with me by the rural lessees association, but there are still a few matters of concern which I will address in the detail stage.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (5.50), in reply: Like the Animal Diseases Bill, the Stock Bill will support operations in the primary industry sector, particularly in respect of the management of animal diseases and issues arising from straying stock and stock movement.

The bill will replace the Stock Act by updating it and including key parts of the Pounds Act. The Pounds Act will be repealed. Some specific elements of the Stock Act associated with transmission of disease through stockfeed have been transferred to the new Animal Diseases Act. The Stock Bill addresses the need to effectively handle straying stock and to assist with the verification of ownership of stock that is being “travelled”—moved or transported from their normal place of holding.

The amendments will allow the government to take effective action to deal with straying stock. They will remove the ambiguities associated with what to do with straying stock and how to handle stock that trespass onto public or private land. For example, occupiers of land will be able to impound stock that trespass onto their land. This differs from the current legislation, where stock may be impounded only in officially declared pounds.

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