Queensland to be more upfront on biosecurity risks
A QUEENSLAND parliamentary committee has been told any proposed changes to biosecurity measures across the state will require a completely different way of thinking.
The Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee held a public briefing on Thursday to investigate whether proposed changes outlined in the Biosecurity Bill 2013 would be feasible.
The bill, which was introduced into State Parliament last month, will, if passed, abolish six pieces of legislation and amend three others in a bid to provide a more flexible framework when dealing with biosecurity matters.
Two key elements of the bill include establishing obligations in relation to reporting and dealing with biosecurity matters that potentially have an adverse impact on the economy, human health, natural environment and social amenity as well as providing greater flexibility to respond in a timely and effective way to animal and plant diseases and pests.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry biosecurity legislation manager Marguerite Clarke told the committee the key innovation in the proposed legislation was the general biosecurity obligation.
"Typically we get an outbreak of something that we have not had in Queensland before and the first thing we do is scurry and list it," she said.
"Then we decide how we are going to deal with it.
"Prior to listing people basically had no obligations in relation to that potential threat.
"It will probably take a little time for everyone to get their head around it, but it represents a complete change in the way we address biosecurity.
"What is essentially says is, if you are going to deal with something, or conduct an activity that is creates or exacerbates a risk, you have a responsibility to minimise that risk.
"That will apply whether it is a listed threat or not."
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister John McVeigh said, when introducing the bill, the state's current biosecurity legislation was disjointed.
"It includes overlapping and inconsistent approaches as well as obscure and obsolete provisions," he said.
"The legislation is difficult for stakeholders to navigate and results in inefficient administration.
"It is largely reactive and prescriptive and lacks the flexibility to enable efficient responses to Queensland's emerging biosecurity risks."
The committee is required to deliver its recommendations to State Parliament before February, 24, 2014.