Commonwealth Numbered Regulations - Explanatory Statements

[Index] [Search] [Download] [Related Items] [Help]


QUARANTINE AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2004 (NO. 2) 2004 NO. 360

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

STATUTORY RULES 2004 NO. 360

Issued by the authority of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Quarantine Act 1908

Quarantine Amendment Regulations 2004 (No. 2)

Subsection 87(1) of the Quarantine Act 1908 ("the Act") provides 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. Under subsection 87(1A) of the Act, regulations may be made that apply in or relate to Australia, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island.

The Quarantine Regulations 2000 ("the Principal Regulations") prescribe matters for the purposes of section 87 of the Act. They apply in, and relate to both Australia and the Cocos Islands.

On 27 October 2004 the Act was extended to Christmas Island by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 2004 ("the Amendment Act"). The extension of the Act to Christmas Island is in accordance with the Australian Government's policy to align conditions and standards in the Indian Ocean Territories with those of comparable communities in the rest of Australia. The Act already extends to the other Indian Ocean Territory, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands ("the Cocos Islands").

The purpose of the Quarantine Amendment Regulations 2004 (No. 2) ("the Amendment Regulations") is to amend the Principal Regulations as a result of extension of the Act to Christmas Island. The Amendment Regulations amend the Principal Regulations so that they apply in and relate to Christmas Island in the same way as they apply in and relate to the Cocos Islands.

Details of the Amendment Regulations are set out below:

Regulation 1 provides that the Amendment Regulations are named the Quarantine Amendment Regulations 2004 (No. 2).

Regulation 2 provides that the Amendment Regulations commence on 1 January 2005.

Regulation 3 provides that Schedule 1 amends the Principal Regulations.

Schedule 1       Amendments

Item 1 amends the Reader's Guide (the "Guide") to include references to the Territory of Christmas Island. The Guide does not form part of the Principal Regulations. It is designed to help readers understand the Principal Regulations.

Item 2 amends the Guide to reflect that there are now three Proclamations rather than one. Formerly declarations and prohibitions for both Australia and the Cocos Islands were located in one Proclamation, the Quarantine Proclamation 1998. However, with the extension of the Act to Christmas Island, a separate Proclamation has been created for each of the Indian Ocean Territories.

Item 3 amends the Guide to make the word "Proclamation" plural as a consequence of the creation of the additional Proclamations.

Items 4 and 5 amend the Guide to add references to Christmas Island as a result of the extension of the Act to Christmas Island.

Item 6 amends the Guide to remove a reference to subsection 6AA(1) of the Act. This subsection has been repealed by the Amendment Act.

Item 7 amends the Guide to correct a reference to the Cocos Islands and to add a reference to Christmas Island to the list of external Territories to which the Principal Regulations apply.

Item 8 amends the Guide to remove a reference to Christmas Island from the list of external Territories to which the Principal Regulations do not apply.

Item 9 amends the Guide to reflect the amendment to subregulation 3(2) of the Principal Regulations (see item 16 below). Subregulation 3(2) defines "Australia" for the purposes of the Principal Regulations.

Item 10 amends the Guide to make the word "Proclamation" plural as a consequence of the creation of the additional Proclamations.

Items 11 and 12 amend the Guide to include references to Christmas Island.

Item 13 amends the Guide to make the word "Proclamation" plural as a consequence of the creation of the additional Proclamations.

Item 14 amends subregulation 3(1) to include a reference to Christmas Island. Regulation 3 deals with the application of the Principal Regulations. The effect of this amendment is to provide that the Principal Regulations apply in and relate to the Christmas Islands unless a contrary intention appears.

Item 15 amends the note at the end of subregulation 3(1) to update the reference to subsection 87(1A) of the Act which was amended by the Amendment Act.

Item 16 amends subregulation 3(2) to provide that, unless a contrary intention appears, references in the Principal Regulations to Australia do not include references to the Christmas Islands. The effect of this item is to facilitate the setting up of quarantine barriers between the geographical area of Christmas Island and the rest of the world, including between Australia and Christmas Island, and the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island. A similar arrangement already exists in relation to Australia and the Cocos Islands. The creation of quarantine barriers between these three geographical areas is necessary to preserve the unique pest and disease status of each of the areas.

Item 17 amends the definition of "first port of entry" so that it includes a "first Christmas Island port of entry".

Items 18 and 19 amend the note at the end of regulation 4 to add the expressions "Christmas Island" and "First Christmas Island port of entry" to the list in the note of expressions that are used in the Principal Regulations and defined in the Act.

Item 20 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in the table in regulation 10. Regulation 10 prescribes information to be contained in pre-arrival reports for vessels (except for aircraft) for subsection 27A(2) of the Act.

Item 21 amends references to "Australia, the Cocos Islands or Australian waters" to include a reference to Christmas Island in the table in regulation 10. Regulation 10 prescribes information to be contained in pre-arrival reports for vessels (except for aircraft) for subsection 27A(2) of the Act.

Item 22 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in the table in regulation 10. Regulation 10 prescribes information to be contained in pre-arrival reports for vessels (except for aircraft) for subsection 27A(2) of the Act.

Item 23 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in the table in regulation 12. Regulation 12 prescribes information to be contained in pre-arrival reports for aircraft for subsection 27B of the Act.

Item 24 amends a note at the end of regulation 13 to include a reference to the Quarantine (Cocos Islands) Proclamation 2004 and the Quarantine (Christmas Island) Proclamation 2004. The note refers the reader to the location of the list of landing places and first ports of entry that are declared by proclamation for Australia, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island.

Item 25 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 15. Regulation 15 specifies when a master of an overseas vessel or overseas installation must report a person's death to a quarantine officer.

Item 26 amends regulation 16 to require notification if an animal is to be imported into Australia, the Cocos Islands or Christmas Island including if the animal is to be imported from Australia, the Cocos Islands or Christmas Island. This amendment recognises that each of the geographical areas described as Australia, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island has a unique pest and disease status which needs to be protected by quarantine barriers between each geographical area as well as between each geographical area and the rest of the world.

Item 27 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 17. Regulation 17 specifies when a master of an overseas vessel or overseas installation must report the death or escape of an animal.

Item 28 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in the table in regulation 18. Regulation 18 prescribes matters about which a quarantine officer may require answers from certain persons for section 28 of the Act.

Item 29 amends references to "Australia, the Cocos Islands or Australian waters" to include a reference to Christmas Island in the table in regulation 18. Regulation 18 prescribes matters about which a quarantine officer may require answers from certain persons for section 28 of the Act.

Item 30 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in the table in regulation 18. Regulation 18 prescribes matters about which a quarantine officer may require answers from certain persons for section 28 of the Act.

Items 31 and 32 amend references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 19. Regulation 19 imposes reporting obligations on the master of a vessel (other than an aircraft) the hull proper of which is less than 25 metres.

Item 33 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 22. Regulation 22 imposes an obligation on the master of an overseas vessel or installation to ensure that the vessel is in a sanitary condition and is not carrying diseases or pests.

Item 34 amends a reference to "Australia, the Cocos Islands or Australian waters" to include a reference to Christmas Island in subregulation 22A(1) Regulation 22A imposes requirements on the master of an overseas vessel or installation regarding the retention and availability of ballast water information.

Item 35 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 25. Regulation 25 sets out when a quarantine officer may give to the operator, master or agent of a vessel or installation a certificate specifying the measures that have been taken by or under the supervision of a quarantine officer to prevent the vessel or installation, or person or goods on it from spreading or causing the spread of a quarantinable disease or a quarantinable pest.

Item 36 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 26. Regulation 26 is an offence provision. It imposes an obligation on the master or an overseas vessel or installation to take reasonable measures to prevent the discharge or removal or stores or waste from the vessel or installation without the master's permission.

Item 37 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in regulations 27, 28 and 30. These regulations are offence provisions dealing respectively with discharging or removing stores or waste from an overseas vessel or installation without the master's permission, interfering with secured stores or waste without the master's permission and failing to keep an animal that is not to be imported on board a vessel or installation.

Item 38 amends the heading of Part 3 to include a reference to Christmas Island.

Item 39 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in regulation 31. Regulation 31 specifies when a person is required to give an address to a quarantine officer.

Item 40 amends a note at the end of regulation 32 to include a reference to the Quarantine (Cocos Islands) Proclamation 2004 and the Quarantine (Christmas Island) Proclamation 2004. The note refers the reader to the location of the declaration of yellow fever as a quarantinable disease of humans for Australia, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island.

Item 41 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in regulations 33 and 34. Regulation 33 specifies when a person is taken to have travelled from a yellow fever place and regulation 34 specifies when a person may be required to show an international certificate.

Items 42 and 43 amend references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in regulation 35. Regulation 35 specifies the content of an international certificate.

Item 44 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 38. Regulation 38 prescribes yellow fever and sets a prescribed period for the purposes of section 35(1A) of the Act.

Item 45 amends regulation 39A. Regulation 39A specifies the content of a notice given to the Director of Human Quarantine under sections 35, 35AA or 35A of the Act. The effect of this amendment is to add both Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands to the reference to "Australia" in paragraph 39A(k). This amendment will ensure that the notice contains details of a person's stopovers whether the person travelled to Australia, the Cocos Islands or Christmas Island.

Item 46 amends a note at the end of subregulation 42(3) to include a reference to the Quarantine (Cocos Islands) Proclamation 2004 and the Quarantine (Christmas Island) Proclamation 2004. The note refers the reader to the location of the declaration of quarantinable diseases of humans for Australia, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island.

Item 47 amends the definitions of the terms in regulation 48. In particular, this item amends the terms "goods imported into Australia" to include goods imported from Christmas Island and "goods imported into the Cocos Islands" to include goods imported from Australia or from Christmas Island. The item also inserts a new term "goods imported into Christmas Island" and a definition for this term that is consistent with the definitions of the other terms as amended by this item. This item recognises that each of the geographical areas described as Australia, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island has a unique pest and disease status which needs to be protected by quarantine barriers between each geographical area as well as between each geographical area and the rest of the world.

Item 48 amends a reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 49. Regulation 49 exempts certain imported goods from the notice requirements set out in section 16AC of the Act.

Item 49 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in items 6 and 7 of the table in regulation 50. Regulation 50 sets out the manner of giving notice of an importation and the information required in the notice.

Item 50 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in subregulation 51(1). Subregulation 51(1) specifies the criteria for low-value goods.

Item 51 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in items 3, 4 and 5 of the table in subregulation 51(2). Subregulation 51(2) sets out the information required in the notice for the importation for low-value goods.

Item 52 deletes regulation 52. This regulation deals with goods imported for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and is no longer required. Regulation 125A of the Customs Regulations 1926 which is referred to in regulation 52 was repealed by the Customs Amendment Regulations 2001 (No. 4).

Item 53 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in regulation 53. Regulation 53 describes when lodgement of an entry under the Customs Act 1901 constitutes giving notice of an importation for section 16AC of the Act.

Items 54 and 55 amend references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in the heading to regulation 54 and in subregulation 54(1). Regulation 54 specifies when manifests are taken to constitute notice of importation for section 16AC of the Act.

Items 56, 57 and 58 amend regulation 55, including the heading, so that all references to the Cocos Islands are amended to include references to Christmas Island. Regulation 55 specifies when manifests are taken to constitute notice of importation into Christmas Island or the Cocos Islands for section 16AC of the Act.

Items 59 and 60 amend the definitions of Incoming Passenger Card and Master and Crew Declaration Card in subregulation 58(3) to allow a Director of Quarantine to approve separate cards for Australia, Christmas Island or the Cocos Islands. The cards are referred to in the infringement notice offence specified in subregulation 58(1).

Item 61 amends a note at the end of the definition of "infringement notice offence" in regulation 59 to include a reference to the Quarantine (Cocos Islands) Proclamation 2004 and the Quarantine (Christmas Island) Proclamation 2004. The note refers the reader to the location of the list of landing places and first ports of entry that are declared for Australia, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island.

Item 62 amends the reference to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include a reference to Christmas Island in the definition of "prescribed penalty" in regulation 59. Regulation 59 provides definitions for the Division dealing with infringement notices.

Item 63 amends references to "Australia or the Cocos Islands" to include references to Christmas Island in paragraphs 61(a) and 63(1)(d). Section 61 empowers a quarantine officer to obtain certain information from a person who is served with an infringement notice. Section 63 specifies the information that must be contained in an infringement notice.

Item 64 amends the heading to Part 7, Division 1 to remove the reference to "Quarantine Proclamation 1998" and replace it with "a Quarantine Proclamation". This amendment recognises that there is now more than one proclamation.

Item 65 inserts a new regulation, regulation 69A. Regulation 69A contains a new expression "Quarantine Proclamation" and inserts a definition of the expression for Part 7,Division 1. This definition avoids the need to replace current references to "Quarantine Proclamation 1998 " in Part 7, Division 1 with references to all three Proclamations.

Items 66 and 67 replace references to "the Quarantine Proclamation 1998" with the term "a Quarantine Proclamation" in regulations 70 and 71.

Item 68 inserts a reference to Christmas Island in regulation 78. Regulation 78 describes when information is taken to be given to a Director of Quarantine, an officer or a quarantine officer.

REGULATION IMPACT STATEMENT

This Regulation Impact Statement relates to proposed changes to the quarantine regimes for Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (the Indian Ocean Territories) arising from a review of the quarantine needs of the Indian Ocean Territories. The review has been conducted over the last couple of years and has included scientific surveys, extensive consultation with the inhabitants of the Indian Ocean Territories and an analysis of the extent to which legislation needs to be amended to reflect quarantine needs.

These changes will be reflected in amendments to the subordinate legislation under the Quarantine Act 1908 (the Act).

The driver for the review of the quarantine needs of the Indian Ocean Territories arose from the proposed extension of the Act in response to the Australian Government's mainstreaming policy for the Indian Ocean Territories. Although the Act has applied to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (the Cocos Islands) since 1981, the proposed extension of the Act to Christmas Island also provided an opportunity to review the quarantine needs of the Cocos Islands.

THE PROBLEM

The problem is to identify a suitable quarantine regime for each of the Indian Ocean Territories that recognises their unique pest and disease status.

A suitable legislative framework needs to be implemented to ensure that a quarantine regime for the Indian Ocean Territories that minimises the potential threat of additional exotic pests and diseases establishing on the Islands. The risks of quarantine incursions on Christmas Island by serious exotic pests and diseases and their consequential risks of transmission to mainland Australia are of major concern. For example, we understand that construction materials, used construction equipment and workers (all of higher potential quarantine risk) may be sourced from both adjacent Asian countries and Australia for these major works, with the used equipment returning to the countries of origin. Quarantine treatment facilities on the Island are minimal and the Island already has a substantially different pest and disease status to that of mainland Australia.

Due to the isolation of the territories there is a different pest and disease status on each Island. Subsistence farming plays a major role in providing fresh fruit and vegetables as a food source to the Cocos Islanders. An introduction of harmful exotic pests and diseases that may be damaging to these subsistence crops could severely jeopardise Island life in respect to a constant food supply.

In developing these regimes, AQIS notes that Australia must take particular care with settling the quarantine regimes for Cocos and Christmas islands because of its obligations under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to which it is a signatory. Broadly this requires that Australia's quarantine regimes, including those for the Indian Ocean Territories must be based on sound science with a consistent approach to the management of risk. Also the quarantine regime applied to incoming goods is an important determinant of Australia's success to export markets and the form of the certification that it can offer to Governments in importing countries. The same point holds for Indian Ocean Territories own export economies, both actual and potential, to mainland Australia and elsewhere.

OBJECTIVES

The objectives of these new quarantine regimes are to minimise the risk of introduction of any exotic pests and diseases onto the Islands, at the same time minimising any adverse economic and environmental impact to the Islands.

The Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) administers the current quarantine legislation for Christmas that is based on anachronistic `Quarantine and Prevention of Disease Ordinance' and is quite unsuited to the purpose. Additionally, in use is a set of work instructions, devised several years ago by the Western Australian Department of Agriculture who were contracted by DOTARS to provide quarantine services on the Island. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) took over responsibility for quarantine service delivery on Christmas in June 2001 with the task of developing and introducing a suitable legislative framework.

The Act currently extends to Cocos and is administered by AQIS. In the 1980's AQIS became responsible for delivery of quarantine services on the Island with the establishment of the secure government animal quarantine station based there. The current legislation reflects a quarantine regime based on maintenance of an operational animal quarantine facility. This establishment is no longer in use for this purpose.

OPTIONS

Several approaches to address the issue of implementing and maintaining a new quarantine regime on the Indian Ocean Territories have been considered:

(a) No Regulation combined with an Education Program

Although education is an essential component of any effective regulatory approach, it is unlikely to achieve the desired objectives. There are very real and significant agricultural and environmental pest and disease risks that must be effectively minimised. No regulation would pose an unacceptable risk to the community and the environment.

(b) Self Regulation

Self-regulation is not considered sufficient given that the introduction of exotic pests and diseases will have an adverse effect on both of the islands and in particular have severe agricultural consequences on the Cocos Islands. Given the diverse nature and limited size of the economy of the Indian Ocean Territories Islands it is unlikely that market forces by themselves would achieve management of the regime proposed. No cohesive representation exists in the Indian Ocean Territories for a self-regulated approach.

(c) Quasi-regulation

As considered with self-regulation, there does not exist a singular cohesive society, motivated to achieve the same goals. The new regime is intended to focus on a long-term approach for the quarantine protection of the Indian Ocean Territories. Currently established quarantine systems are in place. The Christmas Island regime operates under the Quarantine and Prevention of Disease Ordinance and the Cocos Islands operate under the Quarantine Act. There is no uniform community on the Indian Ocean Territories with sufficient expertise to be able to minimise the introduction of harmful exotic pests and disease onto the Islands.

(d) Government regulation

To continue government regulation of quarantine management on the Islands is considered the most effective and appropriate option. AQIS considers the potential introduction of exotic pests and disease to the Indian Ocean Territories to be a significant risk to the community in respect to human and agricultural health and the environment (animal, plant and aquaculture).

IMPACT ANALYSIS

Both Island communities need a level of quarantine protection against the introduction of exotic pests and diseases that will adversely affect their environment, lifestyle and employment. The proposed regimes are intended to be the minimum necessary to maintain an appropriate level of quarantine protection and intervention having regard to the pest and disease status of each of the Islands.

Importers specifically responded that compliance with proposed and current regime adds to their inconvenience and cost. However, given that the introduction of exotic pests and diseases would adversely affect the economies of the Indian Ocean Territories, the maintenance of an effective quarantine regime benefits importers through stabilisation of the economies on the Islands. Controls over importations will be managed through the proclamations made under the Act which will detail the specific requirements that must be met before goods identified by the proclamations can be imported. The proclamations may state that goods are prohibited from entry onto the Islands and/or that particular conditions must be met prior to permission for the goods to be landed on the Islands. In the case of food and other products a treatment may be required prior to the products entry to ensure that they do not bring pests or diseases onto the Islands. For example, the importation of certain crustaceans will be prohibited if uncooked, however, if cooked (treated) they will be allowed entry.

The restrictions on importations imposed through the proclamations have been developed having regard to the unique pest and disease status of each of the Indian Ocean Territories and also to the fact that the ability of the Islands to provide post entry treatment of imported goods is very limited.

In respect to vessel and aircraft operators, the regulations being proposed are consistent with and the reporting and quarantine clearance regimes imposed for vessel and aircraft operators arriving in Australia and are the minimum necessary to ensure quarantine protection of their borders. As an example, in the case of vessels and aircraft, the regulations will prescribe what information is required to be provided to AQIS prior to entry, when the information is required by and in what form it is required. For instance, if a vessel intends to arrive at one of the Indian Ocean Territories Islands, the Master would be required to notify AQIS within 12-48 hours prior to arriving at the port. The initial notification would be by way of answering questions on a `Quarantine Pre-arrival Report'. The questions as specified in the regulations allow an early risk assessment of the vessel to be conducted, and mitigation strategies put in place if risks are identified (eg death of a person from a suspected quarantine illness).

There may be limited inconvenience to arriving passengers who will benefit from the maintenance of the Territories' environmental and economic base that will be supported by an effective quarantine regime on both Islands. Arriving passengers will be asked to complete incoming passenger cards so that an assessment can be done by the quarantine officer at the barrier about the quarantine risk of the items they are bringing into the Island. The Quarantine Infringement Notice Scheme, which allows on the spot fines to be issued to passengers who provide false or misleading information on the card will be applied to the Indian Ocean Territories. This Scheme already applies to Australia.

There are various benefits to be gained by the stakeholder groups mentioned above. Due to their isolation from mainland Australia and overseas countries, the Islands are free from many harmful exotic pests and diseases. The benefits to be gained from the proposed quarantine regime are the:

       Protection and maintenance of their flora, fauna and marine environment. Both Islands have a unique environment with species of fauna rarely found in other parts of the world.

       Maintenance of human and agricultural health. As mentioned earlier, the reliance of subsistence farming as a regular supply of food products cannot be understated. Any further degradation of the current human and agricultural pest and disease status could put at risk the Islands reliance on subsistence farming and environmental tourism.

       Support of the economy and well being of the Islands. If through imports, the introduction and establishment of harmful exotic pests such as the red fire ant (RFA) - known to have killed young children, and/or borers able to destroy homes were occur, the resulting effect would be catastrophic on the life of the Island Communities. Pests such as these would have a direct impact on human health of the Island (i.e. humans are unable to cohabitate with such pests) and could lead to a downturn in population, and in turn, affect the Island importers and economies. Additionally, with the proposed quarantine regime introduced, there would be benefit by those local industries (eg honey exports) to retain their quarantine status.

There are limited impacts to the restrictions of the regime. These restrictions, however, are considered the necessary minimum to provide an appropriate level of quarantine protect to the Islands.

A risk management approach to assess and determine the appropriate level of protection when developing the quarantine regime has been drawn from scientific reports, consultation with agencies responsible for the Island and advice from officers based on Island confirming the absence of quarantine pests.

In 2000, officers from AQIS's Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) program undertook an extensive survey of the pest and disease status of Cocos and Christmas Islands' animal and plant life to provide a clearer view of the pest and disease status of the Island. This report highlighted that the quarantine status of Christmas Island was different from that of the Cocos Islands and that the quarantine status of each of the Islands was different from mainland Australia. Based on this evidence the regime has been developed to maintain the mainland and the Islands as separate quarantine entities under the Quarantine Act. It is assumed that not to do so would pose a real danger of transferring exotic pests, diseases and weeds between all three localities. Additionally, it was imperative that Christmas Island be treated as a separate entity from both Australia and Cocos under the quarantine legislation due to its implications for Australian market access.

Both Commonwealth and State agencies responsible for Christmas and Cocos have been widely consulted for their views and policies on the proposed regime (eg Department of Health and Ageing provides policy advice on appropriate health measures relating to quarantine).

As noted above, the Governments decided to mainstream all government services to the Indian Ocean Territories. This directive and the absence of a uniform cohesive body on the Islands with the expertise to develop and maintain a risk based quarantine system to minimise the introduction of exotic pests and diseases onto the Island, a government regulated approach (no too dissimilar to that currently in place) is the preferred long-term option.

CONSULTATION

As stated above, there are several main parties affected by the introduction of a new quarantine regime. The Island communities themselves recognise the benefits of a quarantine regime designed to protect their human and agricultural health. Consultations have been occurring with the Islanders for over 12 months.

The Cocos Islands are based approximately 2768km NW Perth and 1000km of the Javanese cast. The community consists of 600 Malay and 100 Europeans. Similar to Cocos, Christmas Island is quite remote being 300km SE of Asia with 1200 residents, primarily Malay, Asian and European decent. Due to the unique diversity of cultures and interest groups, an extensive consultation program occurred on both Islands. These consultations included several visits to the Islands where a face-to-face program with the varying importers, vessel and aircraft operators, and the different social and ethnic groups was conducted.

Along with the visits, three rounds of draft consultation papers describing the current quarantine regime on each Island and further clarifying the proposed changes were widely circulated to the various parties for comment. These papers were developed for both Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands by a legislative working party within DAFF. Recognising that English is not the first language of many of the Island residents, the papers were translated into Cocos Malay, Bahasa Malay and traditional Chinese to ensure that the greatest opportunity for comment could be made. Comments could be made to AQIS either in writing (any language) and/or verbally to AQIS's representatives on the Islands.

AQIS met and consulted through the following groups:

Cocos Islands:

       Cocos Congress (including 7 members)

       Cooperative/Stevedore Management

       Cocos Islands Administration - Official Secretary

       Tycraft Pty Ltd (John Clunies Ross)

       Coconut Honey - Exports

       Cocos Island Airport Management

       Australian Federal Police

Christmas Island:

       Wah-Hoo for Kids - Trader

       Administrator, Indian Ocean Territories

       Christmas Island Parks Australia (Government Conservator and 3 officers)

       Ec Oz (Environmental Officer contracted through DOTARS)

       APSC

       Christmas Island Airport Management

       Christmas Island Tourism Association

       Australian Customs Service

       Australian Federal Police

       Christmas Island Islamic Council (approx 9 attendees)

       Acker Trading

       Christmas/Cocos Island Harbour Master

       Christmas Island Phosphate (5 attendees)

       Christmas Island Chamber of Commerce (4 attendees)

       Metro Supermarket - trader

       Shipping Agent

       Shire of Christmas Island and Community Consultative Committee (16 attendees)

       Asian Business Council (approx 45 attendees)

       Christmas Island District High School Administration

       Christmas Island Hospital (12 attendees)

       National Jet Systems

       Christmas Island Removals

       Christmas Island Women's Association (approx 30 attendees)

In general the various parties indicated support for a quarantine regime on the Islands. The retail importer representatives on Christmas Island expressed concerns that any quarantine regime should have the minimum possible economic impact on their operations. Every effort has been made to ensure that any quarantine regulation is the minimum possible required, whilst providing the Islands with an appropriate level of quarantine protection.

In addition to the consultations on the Islands, both Commonwealth and State agencies responsible for Christmas Island and the Cocos Islands have been widely consulted. Commonwealth agencies include the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS), the Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), Australian Customs Service (ACS), Environment Australia (includes Parks Australia), the Department of Health and Ageing (DHA), the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (DITR), the Department of Finance and Administration (DOFA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Feedback received was generally positive, and comments were considered in developing the final consultation papers.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDED OPTION

Although the options of No-regulation, Self-regulation and Quasi-regulation were explored, government regulation is considered the only option that can provide an effective and appropriate level of protection to the Islands. As there exists no cohesive industry or body with the competent expertise to manage a science/risk based quarantine regime, options other than government regulation are considered high risk. The entry of harmful exotic pests and diseases onto the Islands may lead to a devastating effect to the current human, agricultural and environmental health status.

Continuing the current management of quarantine on the Islands by government regulation is the preferred option. This is considered to be the most effective means of delivery of a quarantine regime that not only minimises the potential threat of exotic pest and disease entry, but also considers the wider implication of Australia's obligations under the WTO in respect to managing the regime.

This conclusion is based on the assumption that current government policy for AQIS's role to maintain the responsibility for quarantine in Australia will remain. This includes AQIS maintaining separate regimes on the mainland and on the two Islands in order to meet WTO and SPS obligations.

It is also assumed that current funding provided by DOTARS to support the quarantine regime on the Island would continue. If funding arrangements by Government were to cease, AQIS as a fully cost recovered organisation, would need to consult the Government and Islands to consider the full impact on the Islands under a separate consultation process.

The new regime and option of government regulation provides for an effective balance between environmental issues, cost effectiveness and a science based risk management approach. The other options explored cannot provide the relevant expertise to balance these issues and provide effective management of three separate regimes.

IMPLEMENTATION AND REVIEW

As part of the Government's policy to mainstream services, amendments to the Quarantine Act, 1908 have been passed through Parliament and received Royal Assent in April 2004. The current quarantine legislation for Christmas Island is based on the Quarantine and Prevention of Disease Ordinance and the new regime will take effect 6 months after the date of Royal Assent. Consultations regarding the proposed quarantine regime for Christmas and Cocos Islands have drawn to a close with a final copy of the consultation papers to be circulated to stakeholders for their information.

The following table represents the implementation plan:

       Circulation of the new regime in its final form to stakeholders.

       Seek the formal agreement of the Director of Human Quarantine, and the Director Plant and Animal Quarantine.

       Draft amendments to the Quarantine Proclamation and Regulations.

       Gazettal of changes to Act, Proclamation and Regulations and implementation of the revised regimes.

For over 12 months, AQIS has held several formal consultations with relevant State Agencies, the Administrator of the Island, the various councils, traders and residents. This has been in the form of both visits to the Island where extensive discussions were held, and through consultation papers, including translations into several local languages. Additionally, a web-link has been provided for those people wishing to access the consultation documents via the Internet.

During this time, AQIS representatives have been discussing the intended changes with the various parties and providing advice on the new regime and what it means for individuals. Over the next 6-12 months, education and public awareness campaigns will be implemented by AQIS public relations utilising various extension/media tools. The changes to the Island are not considered radical as there currently exists a formal quarantine regime on both Islands - the focus of education will be on the `refinement of existing regulations'.

The paperwork requested from businesses, predominantly vessel and airport operators and retail traders is considered the minimum documentation required by AQIS to maintain an effective quarantine regime. Forms design and related questions will appear to be very similar to those currently used in mainland Australia with a view to cause less disruption to vessels, aircraft and passengers, and provide consistency between the two Islands and the mainland.

In respect to importation of products, the use of import permits (documentation stating conditions to be met prior to entry) will be kept to a minimum. It is envisaged that conditions of importation, when applicable, will be included within the proclamations.

The AQIS representatives based on the Islands will provide regular reporting and feedback to AQIS's WA Regional office through established mechanisms.

It is envisaged that a Post Implementation Review would be undertaken to determine the success of the new regimes, including the effectiveness of exclusion of new pests and diseases from the Island. This review would commence not less than 12 months after implementation.


[Index] [Related Items] [Search] [Download] [Help]