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Wednesday, 10 September 2003
Page: 14765


Senator CHRIS EVANS (9:57 AM) —The Quarantine Amendment (Health) Bill 2003 makes sensible amendments that modernise and improve the Quarantine Act 1908 and, in some cases, bring the law into line with current practice. Labor supports all the provisions in this bill, which include a new section, 32B, to enable aircraft to be automatically cleared for health purposes except in specified circumstances. This, I think, reflects the modern reality that it is impractical for a health assessment to be conducted of each plane entering Australia each day. Labor is also glad to see that under this amending bill a person will not need to be shown to have an infectious disease before they can be quarantined because now reasonable suspicion of infection or exposure will be sufficient. Obviously this is an improvement when considering conditions such as SARS or chickenpox where the symptoms of ill health do not necessarily occur until some days after infection.

I am aware that Qantas have had some concerns about this bill and were not consulted about it between 2000 and last week when Labor drew it to their attention. While I understand Qantas's concerns have been satisfied, I record Labor's view that it is important that Qantas are afforded full and cooperative consultation while the regulations are developing over the coming months. This is important to ensure that the practical implementation of this legislation is consistent with the intentions expressed; that is, to update legislation and support current practice. Labor supports the bill and will not been moving any amendments.