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Tuesday, 18 September 2007
Page: 106


Senator LUDWIG (8:46 PM) —I was going to speak on the third reading of the last bill, the Australian Crime Commission Amendment Bill 2007, but I did not. But I will speak on the Quarantine Amendment (Commission of Inquiry) Bill 2007. This is a matter that does have a devastating effect on Queensland. The breakdown or what appears to be a breakdown of quarantine such as has been articulated in the press and at large affects not only the racing industry per se but also broader interest groups and stakeholders in this area. It affects not only those who go to the races themselves—and who might place a bet every now and then—but also those who attend riding schools, the strappers, the trainers and those who have stud farms. All of those people are adversely affected. Of course when you go back and look at the issues to do with AQIS you see that a lot of them were raised in the Nairn report. The issues around the breakdown of our border security were ventilated at that time. It is important to make sure that we do have integrity of our borders. It is important to maintain our borders to ensure that these breaches do not occur.

It is particularly encouraging to see that the government have moved to provide an inquiry. That inquiry should be wide ranging enough to ensure that all the matters that are brought forward by people can be clearly articulated and properly examined during the inquiry. This area of course has many stakeholders, and it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that those stakeholders have the ability to put forward their submissions and the ability to articulate their concerns. It is important that the system has integrity to ensure that the outcomes are also respected. What the government should also take on board is that any findings or recommendations made by the inquiry be provided with sufficient support and encouragement so that the industry can examine those. What this industry does seem to have been characterised by—which you see especially when you look at the Nairn report itself—is a series of breaches of quarantine over the last couple of years. Issues such as whether or not the department keeps statistics on these things or a frequency graph to ensure that it manages its border protection should also be ventilated to ensure that the industry does gain a valuable insight into the operation of AQIS and how it maintains our borders. Having said that, I will end my contribution at this point. I see that the shadow minister has turned up to provide a contribution to this debate.