Labor will push to save the powers, independence and tenure of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity today when the Biosecurity Bill 2014 is considered by the Senate.
The Senate Committee’s report which was tabled yesterday in the Senate found that there are serious concerns about the Government’s decision to handover the powers of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity to Barnaby Joyce.
Specifically, that submitters were highly critical of the alternative review process including concerns with their proposed discretionary timing, conduct and scope and that transparency and independence would not be guaranteed given their confidential nature, for example:
The Australian Veterinary Association stated that “If the Inspector-General’s role is designed to be similar to that of an ombudsman (as described in the Beale Review) the public must be able to refer matters directly to the Inspector-General”. Submission 10, pg 4.
AUSVEG stated that “Clause 567 states that “… as the review powers are provided to the Minister, reviews will be conducted independently from the Department, ensuring independence between the subjects and the review (biosecurity officials) and the powers of the person conducting the review.” However, as the powers for conducting a review into the biosecurity system lie with the Minister for Agriculture and may be conferred by the Minister for Agriculture, this cannot legitimately be described as an independent review process”. Submission 10, pg 9.
The Government’s decision to rush the Biosecurity Bill 2014 through the Senate is another example of a dysfunctional and chaotic government.
The gutting of the Inspector-General’s position and revelations today that the former Labor Government’s National Produce Monitoring System has been abolished demonstrates the Abbott Government simply is not prioritising biosecurity and food safety.
Recent food safety scares including the link between Hepatitis A cases and imported berries highlight the need for Australia to have the best biosecurity system we can.
The Abbott Government’s decision to amend the former Labor Government’s Bill will undermine the effectiveness of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity and will weaken rather than strengthen our biosecurity system.
Labor calls on the Liberal-Nationals to restore the statutory position of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity.