Legislative Council: Thursday, November 03, 2022


Livestock (Emergency Animal Disease) Amendment Bill

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (12:32): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Livestock Act 1997. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (12:35): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am very pleased to introduce the Livestock (Emergency Animal Disease) Amendment Bill 2022. Biosecurity affects the industries that keep our state's economy moving and is a responsibility shared by government, industry and the community. Emergency animal diseases and the threats of them have increased for Australia in recent months and recent years, and preparedness activities are currently underway to ensure South Australia is well placed to respond.

The Livestock (Emergency Animal Disease) Amendment Bill 2022 will build on the state's preparedness for an emergency animal disease incursion by strengthening powers within the Livestock Act 1997 to support a comprehensive, rapid and effective emergency response.

The Livestock Act 1997 contains provisions required to control or eradicate livestock diseases. These provisions are utilised regularly for the control or eradication of notifiable endemic animal diseases such as footrot in sheep. However, the current measures need strengthening to ensure speed of implementation and enable any response to be agile in the event of an emergency animal disease incursion. It is also important that powers can be exercised without unnecessary administrative burden, given the likely duration of such a response if an incursion does occur.

Ensuring that all required provisions are encompassed within the Livestock Act 1997 will assist South Australia in the effectiveness and efficiency of such a response. Given the increased risk and catastrophic consequences of some emergency animal diseases, the amendments in this bill are critical to ensure South Australia is ready to respond.

Even a small, isolated emergency animal disease outbreak could have a significant short to medium-term impact on trade. For example, a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak would immediately threaten South Australia's exports of livestock products, which were worth $954 million in 2020-21, and also impact the $1.3 billion worth of interstate trade. A loss of export markets would also impact domestic prices for meat and meat-related products. It is estimated that a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak could cost Australia $80 billion to $100 billion over 10 years.

The effects of an emergency animal disease incursion would be felt beyond the affected livestock and trade impacts, with long-lasting wider impacts on human health and wellbeing, tourism, education and research, with regional communities being the most vulnerable.

The amendments include provisions to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of an emergency response and to improve clarity and enhance powers, noting that the nature of an emergency response can be difficult to predict. The amendments will allow notices to be published on a website and come into force prior to their publication in the Gazette, enabling a more timely and swift response.

The amendments provide the ability to limit the application of a notice to a specified class of persons, a specified class of livestock, livestock products or other property or specified circumstances and also exempt a person or a class of persons from a requirement imposed by a notice. They also allow for conditions to be imposed on any requirement specified by the notice.

Provisions to enable inspectors to take action have been proposed to be amended to ensure that required emergency response measures can be undertaken quickly to minimise impacts on the state's livestock industries and economy. This will provide inspectors with the ability to take a required action where a person fails to comply with a notice or order in a specified or reasonable time frame. Where there are impacts on any native animals as part of a required emergency response, the amendments provide flexibility on when consultation with the relevant minister is required.

Amendments to address the potential for conflicts between the Livestock Act 1997 and other acts have also been considered. Except for the Emergency Management Act 2004, the Livestock Act 1997 will prevail over other acts to enable effective action. Other government agencies will still be able to exercise powers under another act if they comply with the emergency response measures put in place under the Livestock Act—for example, restrictions on movements, property entry requirements or decontamination procedures.

The amendments provide the ability to prescribe the kind of property for which an inspector may issue an order, take action or cause action to be taken for the destruction, demolition or disposal of the property. Some amendments address identified gaps in current powers that will support emergency response efforts. Where appropriate, these powers have been limited in their application to emergency responses regarding exotic diseases only. These powers relate to the use of land, construction, reinforcement or repair of buildings, fences, gates or other structures, disinfection of places and property, possession and supervision of property to support response efforts, and the power to stop work or close any place.

By way of example, these powers mean that in the event of an emergency animal disease outbreak, inspectors will be able to construct or require the construction of a fence to contain livestock. They could disinfect machinery, take possession of available machinery to assist with livestock disposal activities or stop work or close a place to minimise a biosecurity risk or outbreak impact.

The amendments also increase the responsibilities of directors of a body corporate by expanding the definition of a prescribed offence. This recognises the significant role body corporate directors play in ensuring biosecurity risks and impacts are addressed effectively, especially during animal disease response.

Importantly, when an increased risk of exotic disease has been declared, powers to undertake surveillance and proof of freedom testing have been added for monitoring disease incursions or for market access purposes. These enhanced powers will ensure South Australia can undertake testing to quickly implement any required emergency response measures, to limit the rapid spread of disease, and to maintain or regain market access, which will be crucial in managing the economic impact to the state.

Finally, to ensure consistency of the Livestock Act 1997 with other modern legislation, maximum penalty provisions for hindering offences have been revised, and statutory immunity for the Crown has been made more explicit and limited, consistent with the protections provided in the Emergency Management Act 2004.

I am confident these amendments will enhance South Australia's ability to respond to a future emergency animal disease incursion. I commend the Livestock (Emergency Animal Disease) Amendment Bill 2022 to the council and look forward to further debate. I seek leave to table the explanation of clauses and have it inserted into Hansard without my reading it.

Leave granted.

Explanation of Clauses

Part 1—Preliminary

1—Short title

This clause is formal.

Part 2—Amendment of Livestock Act 1997

2—Insertion of section 7A

This clause provides that the Livestock Act is in addition to and does not limit, or derogate from, the provisions of any other Act and prevails over an inconsistent Act (except the Emergency Management Act 2004).

3—Amendment of section 33—Prohibition on entry or movement of livestock or other property absolutely or without required health certificate etc

This allows for urgent notices under the section to be published on a website (rather than in the Gazette) and for the granting of exemptions from the requirements of a notice.

4—Insertion of section 36A

This clause allows the Minister to declare that there is an increased risk of an exotic disease being brought into the State or a specified part of the State. If such a declaration is in force in relation to a disease, an inspector may, for the purposes of monitoring whether the disease has entered the State, or the specified part of the State, or for the purposes of any market access arrangements relating to livestock in the State, examine or test any livestock, livestock products or other property or subject any livestock, livestock products or other property to a continued program of examination or testing at intervals.

5—Amendment of section 37—Gazette notices

This clause clarifies the potential application of Gazette notices (eg to particular classes of person or livestock or subject to conditions etc). The proposed amendments also allow for urgent notices under the section to be published on a website (rather than in the Gazette) and for the granting of exemptions from the requirements of a notice.

6—Amendment of section 39—Action on default

This clause provides that if a person fails to take action required by a notice within the time specified in the notice or within a reasonable period determined by the Chief Inspector, an inspector may take the action required.

7—Amendment of section 42—Exercising powers in relation to native or feral animals

This clause provides that the Minister must enter into an arrangement with the Minister responsible for the administration of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 specifying circumstances in which that Minister is to be consulted before a notice or order is issued, or action taken or caused to be taken, under the Division in relation to native animals. If, however, the Chief Inspector is satisfied that urgent circumstances exist, no consultation will be required. Minor amendments are also made to clarify what native and feral animals it applies to.

8—Amendment of section 43—Limitation on destruction or disposal of livestock or other property

This clause replaces section 43(2) of the principal Act and makes additional provision to allow an inspector to take specified action in relation to property of a kind prescribed by the regulations.

9—Insertion of Part 4 Division 6

This clause inserts Part 4 Division 6 into the principal Act.

Division 6—Liability

46—Protection from liability

This clause sets out limitations in relation to the liability of the Crown and to any person engaged in the administration of the principal Act.

10—Amendment of section 68—General powers of inspectors

This clause inserts paragraph (da) into section 68(2) of the principal Act so that the powers of an inspector includes the power to construct, reinforce or repair any building, fencing, gates or other structures or barriers or carry out any other security or containment measures in relation to any place or thing.

11—Amendment of section 70—Offence to hinder etc inspectors

This clause increases the penalty applying under section 70 of the principal Act from $5,000 to $15,000.

12—Amendment of section 80—Offences by bodies corporate

This clause amends section 80(3) of the principal Act to delete sections 37(5), 38(6) and 38(7) from the list of provisions to which section 80 of the principal Act does not apply.

The clause expands the definition of prescribed offence in section 80(5) of the principal Act to include an offence against section 37 or 38.

13—Amendment of section 84—Evidence

This clause makes a consequential amendment to section 84 of the principal Act to provide for the contents of a certification for evidentiary purposes.

14—Amendment of section 87—Gazette notices

This clause makes amendments to section 87 of the principal Act and to its heading that are consequential to changes made by the insertion of section 33(2a) and section 37(2b) to provide for the publication of notices on a website.

15—Amendment of Schedule 1—Requirements for control or eradication of disease or contamination

This clause amends Schedule 1 of the principal Act to alter and expand the requirements that may be imposed by notice or order under Part 4 Division 4 of the principal Act to control or eradicate disease or contamination.

Debate adjourned on motion of the Hon. L.A. Curran.