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Tuesday, 10 August 2004
Page: 25980

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (1:20 PM) —I will attempt to conclude the discussion on quarantine. It was interesting to hear Senator Brown. He seemed to be arguing for an isolated Australia as the only way to protect it from invasive species and at the same time he seemed to be arguing for expanded trade in sugar. Senator Nettle said the farmers want a strong quarantine regime—and that is true and that is reasonable—but she also could have said that they want the opportunity to trade. Obviously trade is the background against which we are discussing quarantine issues, but we on this side of the chamber believe it is possible to get win-win outcomes and it is possible to provide expanded trade opportunities whilst at the same time protecting our natural assets from quarantine threats. Senator Brown was obviously wrong when he said that there is always only one way to protect from quarantine threats. There might be a range of different ways. Taking a hypothetical example, if the scientists argue that there are two ways with equal effectiveness and if one is less threatening to trade, then that is obviously the one that this side of the chamber would prefer. It gives us the chance to build wealth, create jobs and provide for the community a whole range of different benefits whilst at the same time protecting our natural asset base.

I need to take some advice in relation to the monetary penalties. As Senator Nettle was saying, article 21.12, in this instance, provides—I repeat, in relation to a dispute mechanism not applying to quarantine but to other issues—that if a party has not conformed to its obligations and the parties are unable to reach agreement et cetera it is possible that a financial penalty can be provided, the formula for which is provided in annex 21-A. I am not sure where Senator Nettle wishes to take that issue but no doubt she will now explain.