Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 June 2017) . . Page.. 1889 ..
However, I draw to the Assembly’s attention two matters of procedure on which the minister has failed to deliver. First is that the explanatory statement is not laid out in the accepted format which the scrutiny committee has been advocating for some years now. In particular, it does not provide a clause-by-clause explanation of the bill. The second is that—and I know the scrutiny committee commented on this—the explanatory statement failed to include a human rights statement. I understand the minister is to provide an amended explanatory statement today, presumably to fix these oversights.
There is another more general matter that I draw to the minister’s attention now. I will write to her later to seek clarification. The commonwealth legislation provides for a number of duties that the Governor-General must perform, including making regulations about various determinations and various appointments. However, the ACT Gene Technology Act provides at section 6 that the act does not bind the Crown. This is likely a highly technical matter, so I will not seek to prosecute it today.
Although this is highly technical, I do not believe it would impede the passage of the bill, but I do wonder if it has implications for matters such as the declaration of notifiable low-risk dealings, which at the commonwealth level require the Governor-General to make a regulation subject to being satisfied to a range of qualifiers. What if the ACT had a situation that was unique to the ACT? What then are the roles of the commonwealth and, in particular, the Governor-Governor, and what effect will a decision taken under those roles have on a situation that may be unique in the ACT? Can the Governor-General act in the circumstance when the ACT’s legislation does not bind the Crown?
I will be seeking clarification on these matters from the minister in normal office time rather than in this place. Other than that, we have no amendments and we are pleased to support the bill.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (10.32): The Greens are happy to support the provisions of the Gene Technology Amendment Bill. These changes are largely technical in nature and will bring the ACT’s legislation into alignment with the federal act, which was amended in 2015. These changes are important to ensure that gene technology regulations remain nationally consistent.
This bill does not seek to change the underlying intent or legislative framework for gene technology regulation, and that is why the Greens will be providing our support today. However, there are some broader issues around genetically modified organisms that I think are important to be aware of in an environment where technology is constantly evolving. The Greens have long expressed concerns about the role of genetically engineered organisms in our agricultural system. Despite decades of research and commercialisation, doubt remains over aspects of the safety of genetically modified foods, and the advertised benefits of GM crops are largely yet to be seen globally.