Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has said the passing of the long anticipated Biosecurity Bill through the Senate today is welcomed but could have been strengthened by 51 amendments proposed by the Australian Greens that weren’t supported.
“The Australian Greens welcome the much needed upgrade of Biosecurity legislation in Australia, this Bill will strengthen biosecurity nationally.
“The Bill was a significant step forward compared to the previous bill and previous Quarantine Act, but there are still some areas that need to be fixed.
“The Government and Labor did not support changes to the definition of biosecurity risk that were put forward by the Australian Greens.
“Our amendments also pursued changes to third party rights, injunction rights, the precautionary principal and an improved biosecurity strategy and action plan.
“Supporting amendments would have delivered better outcomes for both industry and community.
"Although our amendments were not supported, the Government gave commitments to pursue outside the legislative process some key issues.
“This includes ensuring an Eminent Scientists Group and a Biosecurity Advisor Council that can provide independent advice on biosecurity, and improving transparency on approved arrangement.
“We will be tracking the implementation of the Act closely to ensure that these commitments are reflected in the regulations and administrate arrangements.
"I am very pleased that the Government responded to pressure from both the Parliament and community to amend the legislation to establish the position of Inspector General of Biosecurity, this will certainly strengthen the Act.
“In light of recent contamination scares, it is more crucial than ever that we implement a strong biosecurity system. Contamination has a multi-faceted and often devastating effect on the Agricultural sector and the environment.
“The Bill in its finality has its faults but is a significant improvement to biosecurity, I will track changes heading forward that will strengthen the Act through regulations”.