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Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Page: 11712

Ms KING (BallaratParliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport and Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing) (19:07): I thank the members for Dickson and Shortland for their contributions to this debate. The National Health Security Amendment Bill 2012 amends the National Health Security Act 2007 to enhance the regulatory scheme for security sensitive biological agents, or SSBAs. The bill enhances the regulatory scheme for SSBAs in two ways. First, the proposed amendments provide a streamlined reporting scheme for entities such as hospital diagnostic facilities that are not registered under the SSBA regulatory scheme and that only need to handle the SSBAs for less than seven consecutive days, which is known as a temporary handling. Specific SSBA standards will apply to the entity during the handling period to ensure that the security of the agent is maintained during that temporary handling.

Second, the amendments will allow the Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing to better manage potential security risks for entities undertaking emergency maintenance. The amending bill also makes some less significant but equally important amendments to improve the operation of the legislation and provide greater clarity for those working with SSBAs. These relate to imposing conditions to ensure the security of SSBAs is maintained in the facilities that are required to undertake corrective actions following an inspection, clarifying the reporting requirements for biological agents suspected to be SSBAs and ensuring that the application of exemptions for certain entities are consistent between known and suspected SSBAs.

I thank members for their contribution to the debate on this bill and also the departmental officers that we have here with us. I am confident that the bill addresses the issues identified during the operational period of the scheme as well as through stakeholder liaison and will ensure that we continue to deliver on our international commitments and the national imperative to actively improve our capacity to maintain adequate controls on biological agents. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 19:1 1