PLANT BIOSECURITY BILL – Thursday, 12 August 2010

Posted on 20. Aug, 2010 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — It is a pleasure to hear that the Plant Biosecurity Bill will not be opposed. It is taken for granted and well known that the production of timber, natural amenity and related revenue from tourism in Victoria’s forest industries generates approximately $1 billion worth of activity each year. Plant pests and diseases are important issues that cannot be overlooked and taken for granted if we are to achieve a safe, harmonious and healthy natural environment in this state.

The government has committed to protect Victoria’s natural way of life and environment by effectively controlling animal pests and diseases and exotic plants that may threaten the local ones. Such commitment is very important, and it is supported by the wider biosecurity strategy for Victoria. As a crucial part of the government’s strategy to protect Victoria’s wider primary industries, social enjoyment and human health, the bill rescinds and replaces the Plant Health and Plant Products Act 1995. With the introduction of this bill, the new objectives are to keep the productivity and market access for plants and products of plants in Victoria; to control and prevent exotic plants and plant diseases from entering Victoria; and to prevent and control invasive pests and plant diseases in Victoria. The existing authority to protect Victorian plant industries will be further improved by the bill.

As a replacement of the existing 1995 act, this bill aims to maintain its supportive legislative function to facilitate the free movement of Victoria’s local plant products within the state to other states and to international markets. Timber, trees, native flora, seeds, fruit and vegetables and other plants or plant products are covered in this bill.

Firstly, in relation to the movement of plant products to designated markets, the transport of so‑called host materials and subsequent certification of such material will need to be effectively managed under this bill; such materials may include earth material, plant products, plants or used packages. This is a more effective measure to strengthen border protection.

New provisions under the bill include additions to the list of vectors that may contribute to the spread of a disease or pest, so earthmoving machinery, rocks, gravel, sand and used roadworks equipment will all be counted. The Department of Primary Industries is given the power to make declarations that a place is infected following the discovery of a pest and will accordingly be enabled to control the movement of affected plants and plant products. Another key provision is the introduction of a property identification code, which will enable the Department of Primary Industries to promptly identify pest‑affected areas and owners of properties in those areas. Property owners will have to apply for such a code so that quick responses can be initiated should invasive pests or diseases be detected.

Aiming to be consistent with the Sentencing Act 1991, penalty levels for different offences will be revised. Only non‑compliant individuals and bodies corporate will have the new sanctions imposed upon them. New powers for inspectors will be granted to address legislation compliance issues, as well as monitoring responses initiated to tackle pests and diseases. Technical amendments are also made to provide a fixed‑fee structure and plant product labelling and packaging procedures. In conclusion, the bill will deliver a more consolidated and efficient legal foundation for managing plants, pests and diseases in the state of Victoria. I commend the bill to the house.

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