Page 1893 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 6 June 2017
that, as soon as practicable after the end of each financial year, the regulator must prepare and give to the minister a report on the operations of the regulator under this act during that year. The minister must then present a copy of the report to the Legislative Assembly within six sitting days of receiving the report. This moves the ACT from a requirement to table quarterly reports to annual reporting.
Division 5.3, sections 46A and 49, is amended to clarify which dealings may be authorised by inadvertent dealings licences. “Inadvertent dealings” refers to actions which the Gene Technology Act allows people to undertake without a licence if they have unknowingly come into possession of a potentially genetically modified organism. These amendments clarify the actions, such as testing or transport, which may constitute “inadvertent dealings” because a person may need to do these to determine whether an organism is in fact a GMO needing to be licensed.
Subsections 52(4)(a) and (b) are amended to reflect changes to the publication of notices by the regulator. This allows the regulator to choose the most appropriate newspaper for each state or territory in which to post notices by the regulator. The previous legislation required a single newspaper generally available in all states and territories. Division 2.2, section 10(1), and division 9.1, section 117(c), are amended to omit “GMOs” and “GM products” and substitute with “GMO dealings”. This amends references to the record of GMO and GM product dealings, or descriptions of its contents, to remove references to GM products.
Section 71(b) amends the act to allow the regulator to consider any risks to the health and safety of people and the environment when considering whether dealings with GMOs can be declared to be notifiable low-risk dealings, which are not as closely monitored by the regulator as other licensed dealings with GMOs. Part 3, section 30(2)(a), is amended to clarify when the regulator can amend a GMO licence. This removes an unintended effect of the original wording which limited the ability of the regulator to vary a GMO licence to account for newly discovered risks. The amendment will make clear that the regulator can vary a GMO licence to manage newly discovered risks to the health and safety of people or the environment. Subsection 74(3) is amended to clarify ambiguous wording.
These amendments will ensure that the ACT government meets its obligations under the gene technology agreement and will enhance the effectiveness of the gene technology regulatory scheme. I note and thank the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, acting in its legislative scrutiny role, for its confirmation that the bill is compatible with the Human Rights Act. I am pleased to confirm that the bill does not engage or limit rights under the Human Rights Act 2004. I thank the committee for their scrutiny of the bill.
I now table a revised explanatory statement to the Assembly. I note also Mrs Dunne’s comments regarding the role of the Governor-General. As she indicated, we will take those issues offline and provide further advice at a later date. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.