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Quarantine Amendment Bill 2002

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2002

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUARANTINE AMENDMENT BILL 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry,

the Hon Warren Truss MP)

 

 



 

QUARANTINE AMENDMENT BILL 2002

 

GENERAL OUTLINE

 

1.         The purpose of this Bill is to enhance Australia's national emergency powers in the event of a major emergency animal disease outbreak, such as foot and mouth disease.  The Bill provides for the Governor-General to declare by proclamation, that an epidemic or danger of an epidemic has the potential to so affect a primary industry of national significance (as defined) that it calls for the exercise of coordinated response powers

 

·          empowers the Minister, upon the making of the declaration by the Governor-General, to exercise coordinated response powers

 

·          provides that the coordinated response powers allow the Minister to authorise persons who are the executive heads of national response agencies (as defined) to give such directions and take such action as the persons think necessary to control, eradicate or remove the danger of the epidemic by quarantine measures or measures incidental to quarantine

 

·          amends the scope of quarantine to put beyond doubt that the coordinated response powers may extend to the seizure and destruction of animals, plants or other goods or things and the destruction of premises comprising buildings or other structures when treatment of the buildings is not practicable

 

·          expands the section of the Act dealing with compensation for destroyed goods so that it also applies to destroyed premises.

 

2.         The Bill also extends the range of matters for which the Commonwealth may enter into arrangements with the States or Territories, broadens the range of person who may perform the powers and exercise the functions of quarantine officers and introduces a new offence for the importation of prohibited goods for commercial purposes.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

3.         The Bill has no budgetary impact and requires no additional Commonwealth expenditure.



 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1 - Short Title

 

4.         The Act will be called the Quarantine Amendment Act 2002.

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

 

5.         Sections 1 to 3 will commence on Royal Assent.  Schedule 1, Part 1 will commence on a day to be fixed by Proclamation.

 

Clause 3 - Schedule(s)

 

6.         Clause 3 provides that the amendment or the repeal of Acts specified in the Schedule to the Bill and any other Item in the Schedule will have effect according to the terms of that Item.  Schedule 1, Part 1 provides for the extension of the Quarantine Act 1908 to enable authorised Commonwealth, State and Territory officers to act in exceptional circumstances.  Schedule 1, Part 2 provides…

 

            SCHEDULE 1 - AMENDMENT OF THE QUARANTINE ACT 1908           

 

Part 1 - Extension of the Act to enable authorised Commonwealth, State and Territory officers to act in exceptional circumstances

 

Item 1 - After subsection 2B(2)

 

7.         This item allows for the Governor-General, within the proclamation outlined in subsection 2B(1) declaring that an epidemic or the danger of an epidemic exists in any part of the Commonwealth, to make a further declaration.  The Governor-General may further declare that the epidemic, or the danger of the epidemic has the potential to affect an industry of national significance (described in Item 6 of this Bill). 

 

8.         This allows the Governor-General to declare that an epidemic or danger of an epidemic is such that coordinated response powers as provided for in Item 3 may be exercised by the Minister.

 

9.         The Minister may give a direction or take an action in subsection 2B(2) regardless of any other laws of the Commonwealth, States or Territories.  This makes subsection 2B(2) consistent with the provision in item 3, dealing with the exercise of coordinated response powers.  

 

Item 2 - At the end of section 2B

 

10.       This item allows for strict liability to apply to offences committed under subsection 2B(3).  It is not necessary for the offence to be committed with intention, knowledge, recklessness or negligence, which is consistent with the provisions of section 6.1 of the Criminal Code.



 

Item 3 - After section 2B

 

11.       This item inserts a new section 3 in to the Act.  This new section sets out the arrangements for the exercise of the coordinated response powers

 

12.       The coordinated response powers operate at two levels of authorisation.  The first level occurs under subsection 3(1).  Subsection 3(1) empowers the Minister to authorise persons who are the executive heads of national response agencies to give such directions and take such action as the persons think necessary to control, eradicate or remove the danger of the epidemic, by quarantine measures or measures incidental to quarantine. 

 

13.       Such directions and action must comply with any conditions or limitations specified by the Minister in the instrument.  Such conditions and limitations provide the Minister with additional controls and allow for authorisations issued by the Minister to specify the conditions in which the epidemic, or danger of the epidemic exists.

 

14.       The second level of authorisation occurs under subsection 3(2) which provides that once so authorised, executive heads of national response agencies may, while the authorisation remains, and subject to the same conditions or limitations specified by the Minister in the instrument, authorise members of the agencies to give such directions, or take such action as the persons think necessary to control, eradicate or remove the danger of the epidemic.

 

15.       An executive head may also revoke any authorisation given to members of the agency at any time.

 

16.       An executive head when providing an authorisation to members of the agency may apply additional conditions or limitations, which may not necessarily apply to the authorisation given to the executive head of the national response agency by the Minister.  This allows controls specific and appropriate to the agency in question to be imposed, which may not be necessary or appropriate for other agencies. 

 

17.       The authorisation continues, even if a person ceases to be the executive head of the agency.  The successor to that person continues to exercise the same powers authorised by the Minister.

 

18.       An authorisation applying to a person does not affect that person’s normal duties within the agency.  This makes clear that the powers afforded a person in an agency do not extend beyond giving directions and taking action in relation to the epidemic or danger of the epidemic specified in the authorisation.

 

19.       An authorisation is automatically revoked when the proclamation to which the authorisation relates is revoked.

 

20.       In order that impediments that may exist in other laws of the Commonwealth, States or Territories do not effect these provisions, a person may give a direction or take an action in subsection 2B(2) regardless of any other laws of the Commonwealth, States or Territories. 

 

21.       An offence is committed if a direction is given to a person and the person does not comply with the direction. Strict liability applies to offences committed under this provision.  It is not necessary for the offence to be committed with intention, knowledge, recklessness or negligence.

 

22.       To avoid doubt, if a person is a quarantine officer and is authorised under this provision to give directions and take action, the restrictions which would normally apply to a quarantine officer do not apply while undertaking the duties in relation to this provision.

 

23.       Apart from the usual permanent employees, this provision also allows for persons performing duties in an agency, and which are subject to this provision, to include contractors, temporary employees and those performing duties in the agency on a voluntary basis.  

 

Item 4 - Paragraph 4(a)

 

24.       This item puts beyond doubt that the coordinated response powers may extend to the seizure and destruction of animals, plants, or other goods or things and the destruction of premises comprising buildings or other structures when treatment is neither effective nor practicable.

 

Item 5 - At the end of section 4

 

25.       This item specifies that when a person is authorised under the provisions in Item 3 to give such directions and take such action as the person thinks necessary to control, eradicate or remove the danger of an epidemic, such directions or action must be no more than specifically appropriate to the circumstances of the epidemic or the danger of the epidemic.  Directions given and action taken which are not appropriate to such circumstances are not authorised.

 

Item 6 - Subsection 5(1)

 

26.       This item defines industry of national significance as it relates to the proclamation outlined in Clause 1.

 

Item 7 - Subsection 5(1)

 

27.       This item defines national response agency as it relates to the provisions in Clause 3.  Provision is made for national response agencies to be notified in the Gazette .  In general terms, these will be agencies necessary and effective in responding to situations requiring national and emergency response measures.  These agencies may include any arm or unit of the Australian Defence Force, any department, or part of a department, of the Commonwealth, State or Territory, or any other agency or authority established for a public purpose under a law of the Commonwealth, State or Territory.

 

Item 8- After subsection 5(1)

 

28.       This item provides for the Minister to consult with any Minister responsible for an agency that may be deemed to be a national response agency that may be required to respond to a national emergency response before a proclamation, as outlined in Clause 1, is made.

 

Item 9 - At the end of subsection 11(1)

 

29.       This item allows for the Governor-General to enter into an arrangement with the Governors of each State and the Administrator of the Northern Territory if Australia has entered into any international agreements to provide certification for export products.  The Commonwealth may provide assistance, when considered necessary or convenient, to the States and the Northern Territory in the implementation and monitoring of arrangements to enable certification of export products resulting from any international agreements to which the Commonwealth is party and in providing reports on such implementation and monitoring to the Commonwealth. 

 

30.       Such arrangements will ensure that the Commonwealth, States and Territories can utilise resources and information for a national benefit, in this case ensuring that export products comply with Australia’s international agreements with trading partners.

 

Item 10 - At the end of subsection 11(2)

 

31.       This item allows for the Prime Minister to enter into an arrangement with the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory if Australia has entered into any international agreements to provide certification for export products.  The Commonwealth may provide assistance, when considered necessary or convenient, to the Australian Capital Territory in the implementation and monitoring of arrangements to enable certification of export products resulting from any international agreements to which the Commonwealth is party and in providing reports on such implementation and monitoring to the Commonwealth.

 

32.       Such arrangements will ensure that the Commonwealth and the Australian Capital Territory can utilise resources and information for a national benefit, in this case ensuring that export products comply with Australia’s international agreements with trading partners.

 

Item 11 - Subsection 69A(1)

 

33.       This item amends the existing subsection 69A(1), in relation to compensation for goods destroyed in accordance with the Act, to include provision for compensation for any buildings or other structures ( premises ) destroyed in accordance with the Act.  This provision relates to the amendment outlined in Item 4, which enhances the scope of quarantine to put beyond doubt that the coordinated response powers may extend to the seizure and destruction of premises comprising buildings or other structures when treatment of the buildings is not practicable.

 

Item 12 - Subsections 69A(3) and (5)

 

34.       Item11 provides for premises to be added to these subsections within the provision in the Act dealing with compensation for destroyed goods.



 

Item 13 - Subsection 69A(6)

 

35.       This item adds the owners of premises to the subsection in the Act dealing with providing information in relation to destruction of goods or premises.

 

Item 14 - Subsections 69(A) (7), (9), (10) and (11)

 

36.       This item also allows for premises to be added to the provision in the Act dealing with compensation for destroyed goods.

 

Item 15 - Subsection 69A(14)

 

37.       Item 14 provides that premises be added to the subsection dealing with the definition of owner.

 

Item 16 - Subsection 69A(14)

 

38.       This Item defines the owner of the premises.

 

Item 17- After subsection 82(1)

 

39.       This item allows for persons that this Bill provides can give such directions and take such action in relation to the eradication of an epidemic or the removal of the danger of an epidemic to be protected from civil proceedings in relation to action taken in good faith while performing any function or duty, or the exercise of any power provided for in this Bill.