Commonwealth Numbered Regulations - Explanatory Statements

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QUARANTINE AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2004 (NO. 1) 2004 NO. 40

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

STATUTORY RULES 2004 NO. 40

Issued by the Authority of the Minister for Health and Ageing

Quarantine Act 1908

Quarantine Amendment Regulations 2004 (No. 1)

Subsection 87(1) of the Quarantine Act 1908 (the Act) provides, in part, that the

Governor-General may make regulations, not inconsistent with the Act, prescribing all matters which by the Act are required or permitted to be prescribed or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the Act.

The Act provides the legislative basis for human, plant and animal quarantine activities. The Quarantine Regulations 2000 (the Principal Regulations) prescribe various matters to give effect to the Act. In 2000, a review of the human quarantine provisions recommended that the Act, and its subordinate legislation, be amended to update the legislation and align it with current policy and practice. The Quarantine Amendment (Health) Act 2003 (the Amendment Act), which amends the Act, received Royal Assent on 26 September 2003; most provisions of the Act came into force on 26 March 2004. In particular, that Act amends the Act to:

       clarify the arrangements for granting pratique (health clearance) for overseas aircraft arrivals;

       establish a framework for monitoring and control in and around ports and landing places to ensure diseases are not spread by anything that may be on board, for example mosquitoes, mice and other organisms (known as vector control); and

       introduce a new provision allowing a person ordered into quarantine to seek an independent medical assessment.

Section 12 of the Act enables the Governor-General to proclaim a place in or beyond Australia to be infected with a quarantinable disease or pest. This is achieved by substituting the definition of proclaimed place within the meaning of section 12 of the Act with a definition of declared place. The Amendment Act reforms the administration of the Act by allowing the Minister to declare any place in or beyond Australia infected, or in danger of being infected, by a quarantinable disease or pest.

The purpose of the Regulations is to rectify various anomalies, align the Principal Regulations with current human quarantine policy and practice, and insert consequential amendments to give effect to the amendments to the Act.

Details of the Regulations are set out in the Attachment.

The Regulations commence on the commencement of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Amendment Act. Item 2 of the table in subsection 2 (1) of that Act provides that Part 1 of Schedule 1 is to commence on a single day to be fixed by Proclamation subject to subsection 2(3). Subsection 2(3) provides that Part 1 of Schedule 1 will commence on the first day after a period of 6 months beginning on the date of Royal Assent, if it has not already commenced. No proclamation has been or is intended to be made for this purpose. Therefore Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Amendment Act will commence on 26 March 2004. The Regulations also commence on that date.

ATTACHMENT

DETAILS OF THE QUARANTINE AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2004 (NO. 1)

Regulation 1 provides for the Regulations to be referred to as the Quarantine Amendment Regulations 2004 (No. 1).

Regulation 2 provides for the Regulations to commence on the commencement of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Quarantine Amendment (Health) Act 2003. This will be on 26 March 2004.

Regulation 3 provides for Schedule 1 to amend the Quarantine Regulations 2000.

Schedule 1 - Amendments

Item [1] Readers' guide, paragraph 7.6, first bullet point

This item expands the reference in the Reader's Guide (from "regulations 36 to 39, to "regulations 36 to 39A") to take account of new regulation 39A - see item [26] below.

Item [2] Readers' guide, paragraph 7.6, third bullet point

This item amends the Reader's Guide to refer to the information that must be given in a certificate of release under section 35B of the Quarantine Act 1908 (the Act), as a consequence of proposed amendments to regulation 41 (see item [27] below).

Amendments to substitute "proclaimed place" with "declared place"

Section 12 of the Act provides that any place in or beyond Australia infected, or in danger of being infected, by a quarantinable disease or pest, is to be proclaimed by the

Governor-General. However, amendments to the Act by the Quarantine Amendment (Health) Act 2003 (the Amendment Act) have the effect that such places be declared by the Minister, by notice published in the Gazette.

Consequential amendments to substitute "proclaimed place" with "declared place" , and associated variations, are made by:

Item [3] Regulation 4 - Definition of yellow fever proclaimed place;

Items [4] and [5] Regulation 4 - note;

Item [16] Paragraph 25(1)(a);

Item [17] Subregulation 25(1) - note;

Item [18] Part 3 Division 2, heading;

Item [19] Regulation 32;

Item [20] Regulation 33, heading;

Item [21] Regulation 33;

Item [23] Subregulation 35 (1);

Item [24] Regulation 39, heading; and

Item [25] Regulation 39, note.

Item [6] Regulation 6 - Prescribed symptoms and diseases

Regulation 6 currently prescribes diseases, the outbreak of which requires notification on the part of the master of the vessel on which the outbreak occurs. The Regulations amend regulation 6 to also require notification of prescribed symptoms (new subregulation 6(1)). The concept of symptom reporting was introduced to make notification requirements more practical for non-medically trained staff (i.e. cabin crew and commanders of vessels).

With the introduction of the list of prescribed symptoms, the need for a list of prescribed diseases is reduced. Accordingly, the list of prescribed diseases is amended to reflect current and emerging health risks (new subregulation 6(2)).

Item [7] Regulation 7 - Note

The note currently advises that aircraft are exempt from the requirement to display quarantine signals. Under the Amendment Act, the requirement for aircraft to display quarantine signals is removed, making the need for an exemption under the Quarantine Proclamation 1998 redundant. The exemption is now omitted from the Quarantine Proclamation 1998. The note after regulation 7 is also now omitted.

Items [8] and [9] Subregulations 10(1) and (2) - Table, after items 11 and 4 respectively

These items insert a new requirement for masters of vessels and installations, excluding aircraft, to report persons presenting with prescribed symptoms, as a requirement of pre-arrival reporting.

Item [10] Regulation 12 - Table, after item 2

This item inserts a new requirement for commanders of aircraft to report persons presenting with prescribed symptoms, as a requirement of pre-arrival reporting.

Item [11] Subparagraph 13(1)(a)(i)

This item omits the words at least 30 minutes before the aircraft starts its descent from the requirement for when pre-arrival information is to be provided by aircraft and replaces it with "as close as is operationally practicable to the top of descent but in any case at least
30 minutes before the aircraft is on chocks".
When an aircraft is on `chocks' it has landed and the wheels have been blocked.

This amendment is consistent with current industry practice and policy.

Item [12] Regulation 14

This item is a consequential amendment to allow masters of vessels to continue to report prescribed diseases, pursuant to new proposed subregulation 6(2). (Prescribed diseases are currently listed under subregulation 6(1)).

Item [13] Regulation 18 - Table, after item 12

This item inserts a new requirement for the masters of vessels or installations to answer questions relating to persons who have been reported as presenting with prescribed symptoms. This is a requirement of pre-arrival reporting pursuant to subsection 27A(2) of the Act.

Item [14] New Division - Division 2A Pratique

Pratique is a health clearance that is granted to all incoming international vessels if they are considered to be free from infection. Originally all vessels had to report to a quarantine officer to receive pratique even if no illness was present or had occurred. This requirement still applies to ships.

The Amendment Act inserts a new section 32B into the Act which specifies the pratique requirements for aircraft. Section 32B allows for pratique to be granted automatically for aircraft, and provides for the details of directions given by the Director of Human Quarantine to be prescribed by regulation.

This item inserts a new division detailing the circumstances which could result in the revocation of automatic pratique and the considerations that must be taken into account by the Director of Human Quarantine in giving such a direction.

Item [15] New Regulation - Vector monitoring and control activities

The objective of vector monitoring and control activities is to prevent the introduction, spread and/or establishment of exotic human diseases and things such as mosquitoes, mice, or other organisms which may spread them, known as "vectors", so that any threat to public health resulting from a vector incursion is minimised or removed entirely.

Vector monitoring and control activities are conducted on vessels in and around ports; the area within a permissible distance from the outer boundary of a port; the area within a permissible distance from a place (other than a port) at which a vessel has landed or is parked, moored or berthed; or an area beyond a permissible distance (currently 400 metres).

This item inserts a new regulation 24A that describes the activities necessary for vector monitoring and control activities.

Item [22] Regulation 34

This item amends regulation 34 so that a person who travels to Australia or the Cocos Islands from a yellow fever declared place must show a Customs or quarantine officer an international yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Currently, failure to produce the certificate could result in prosecution under regulation 34(3). However, the current practice is to order the person into quarantine under paragraph 35(1)(a) of the Act and then release them on quarantine surveillance under subsection 45(3).

The new regulation 34 makes it consistent with current practice.

Item [26] After Regulation 39

This item inserts a new regulation 39A Notices to the Director of Human Quarantine. The Director of Human Quarantine must be notified in writing of an order which places a person into quarantine under sections 35, 35AA or 35A of the Act. This is a new requirement inserted into the Act by the Amendment Act. This item prescribes the information about the quarantined person that must be contained in the notice. In the event of an outbreak of disease the capacity to quickly identify and locate potential disease contacts is vital in minimising and containing the spread of infection and protecting public health and safety.

Item [27] Part 4, Division 2

This item introduces the new heading Release from quarantine to Division 2. Existing regulation 41 Obligation to Perform Quarantine is omitted and replaced with new regulation 41 Certificate of Release.

Subsection 35B(1) of the Act (inserted by the Amendment Act) provides that a quarantined person must receive a certificate of release from a human quarantine officer when released from quarantine. Subsection 35B(3) specifies that a human quarantine officer needs to notify the Director of Human Quarantine in writing when a person is released from quarantine. In the event of an outbreak of disease it may be necessary to undertake contact tracing on persons who have recently been released from quarantine. Therefore, this item details the information that must be contained in the certificate of release.

Item [28] Regulation 42

Existing regulation 42 Periods for which persons are subject to quarantine is omitted and replaced with new regulation 42 Quarantine Surveillance periods. A person may be released under quarantine surveillance under subsections 34(3), 35AA(5) or 45(3) of the Act. This item specifies the prescribed periods for which a person is to remain under quarantine surveillance. Subregulation 42(3) details the prescribed periods for each disease. As such, the prescribed periods would only be relevant to people released under quarantine surveillance. Paragraph 42 (3)(i) provides a surveillance period of 30 days for any other disease. This provides for greater flexibility in the event of any other disease outbreak.

Item [29] Regulations 46 and 47

This item omits existing regulations 46 and 47, replacing them with new provisions.

New regulation 46 prescribes conditions of quarantine surveillance. The quarantine surveillance provisions would apply to apparently healthy people. Although such people may be asymptomatic, they potentially pose a significant threat to public health and safety if they are carrying a serious communicable disease. The conditions would not be mandatory for all diseases, but would be assessed on a case by case basis.

New regulation 47 provides for persons released under quarantine surveillance to be ordered into quarantine under certain circumstances. If after release under quarantine surveillance the person failed to comply with the conditions set or the person displayed symptoms of a quarantinable disease, then the person could be ordered into quarantine.


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