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Control of chemicals of security concern.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP

HON PETER McGAURAN MP MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

NEWS RELEASE

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600  Telephone (02) 6277 7300  Fax (02) 6273 4102 www.ag.gov.au

30 November 2006 223/2006

CONTROL OF CHEMICALS OF SECURITY CONCERN

Widespread consultation has begun in a review of the use and supply of chemicals of security concern to prevent their possible use in a terrorist incident.

The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, and the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, today released a discussion paper on the development of appropriate controls for chemicals of security concern.

Mr Ruddock said the Australian Government was working closely with State and Territory governments and industry groups as part of the COAG Review of Hazardous Materials which began in 2002.

“The deliberate misuse of certain chemicals by terrorists has the potential to cause significant harm to Australians and Australian interests,” Mr Ruddock said.

“Chemicals could be used by terrorists to produce explosives or to contaminate air, water or food. Experience has shown us that terrorists are likely to source chemicals that are high impact, readily accessible and easy to use.

“Tragically, we have already witnessed in Bali the devastation that can be caused by terrorists with ready access to chemicals,” he said.

The Ministers said the discussion paper identified a list of chemicals which may require additional control measures because of their assessed security risk. It will be necessary to consider what, if any, measures should be taken in relation to each of the listed chemicals.

Mr Ruddock said it was “unlikely that any single regime would be necessary and appropriate’’ for all the chemicals.

Mr McGauran encouraged farmers and anyone else who might be affected by potential changes in this area to examine the issues in the discussion paper and submit their views for consideration.

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“Governments are a long way from finalising the list of chemicals and related controls and no decisions will be made until a thorough consultation process, including with key farm organisations such as the National Farmers’ Federation, has occurred,’’ Mr McGauran said.

Mr McGauran said the potential control measures were not intended to prevent the legitimate use of chemicals by farmers.

“Most farmers use chemicals as part of their everyday activities, including for weed and pest control, and to maintain the health of their animals,’’ he said.

“Farmers will still be able to use chemicals for these reasons under any control measures that may be introduced, and industry stewardship programs will be used, where possible, to help them meet the security requirements.”

Mr Ruddock said the discussion paper had been prepared to generate feedback from industry, agriculture, researchers and other users of chemicals, and Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

“The review of chemicals of security concern is at an early stage and we anticipate further stakeholder consultation during the COAG review process,” Mr Ruddock said.

The discussion paper will be available for comment until 1 March 2007 and can be accessed from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website at www.pmc.gov.au.

Media contacts: Michael Pelly, Office of the Attorney-General 0419 278 715

Ben Houston, Office of Mr McGauran 0428 695 037 (02) 6277 7520