Wednesday, 23 June 2021
Biosecurity Amendment (Strengthening Penalties) Bill 2021; In Committee
The government won't be supporting Senator Patrick's amendment, although we do acknowledge the intent of the amendment. During a human biosecurity emergency period, the health minister may, in accordance with sections 477 and 478 of the act, determine emergency requirements that he or she is satisfied are necessary to prevent or control the entry, emergence, establishment or spread of the declaration listed human disease—such as COVID-19—in an Australian territory or a part of an Australian territory. A person who fails to comply with the requirements may commit a criminal offence.
The Australian government has established protocols for the exercise of emergency powers under the act to ensure that the emergency powers are used only where necessary to protect the health of Australians based on expert health advice and following appropriate consultation. The bill contains existing provisions to ensure that the powers are used only where appropriate and necessary and, therefore, the amendments are not necessary, are not proportionate and could impact on the government's ability to respond to this and future health emergencies.
The TEMPORARY CHAIR: The question before the Senate is that amendment (1) on sheet 1306 moved by Senator Patrick be agreed to.