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Exposure draft: Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill
Related pages — Draft exposure bills
- Chapter 1 – Preliminary
- Chapter 2 – Human Health
- Chapter 3 – Goods
- Chapter 4 – Conveyances
- Chapter 5 – Ballast water
- Chapter 6 – Prevention and control measures
- Chapter 7 – Approved arrangements
- Chapter 8 – Emergency provisions
- Chapter 9 & 10 – Compliance and enforcement
- Chapter 11 – Governance and officials
- Chapter 12 – Miscellaneous
- Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill
- The Inspector-General is a position independent of the department and the Director of Biosecurity, and reports directly to the Minister.
- The Inspector-General undertakes audit/review functions focused on the Director of Biosecurity's systems and processes.
- There are a number of powers and obligations the Inspector-General has to ensure that the audit/review function is carried out successfully.
The exposure drafts below are the basis for the submissions provided and published as part of the consultation from 4 July — 24 October 2012. The exposure draft versions of the legislation are provided for context. The content of these exposure drafts should not be relied upon and should be read together with the disclaimer.
The Biosecurity Bill 2012 and the Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill were introduced into Parliament on 28 November 2012.
Exposure draft: Full Bill
The full exposure draft Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill can be downloaded below.
- Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill Word [223 KB]
- Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill PDF [95 KB]
The Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill establishes the office of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity and defines its role, functions and powers.
The role and function of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity
The Inspector-General of Biosecurity's role is to review and report on the Director of Biosecurity's systems and processes, with particular regard to their effectiveness at managing biosecurity risk. The powers of the Inspector-General are limited to reviewing the quality of processes only. The Inspector-General's power does not extend to commenting on the effectiveness of policy or to assess or comment on the merits of scientific results.
Appointment of the Inspector-General
The Inspector-General can be appointed on a full-time or part-time basis, provided the Agriculture Minister (the Minister) is satisfied that the person has suitable qualifications or experience. The Inspector-General cannot hold office for any longer than 5 years in one term, and not for a total of more than 10 years.
Ordinarily, the Remuneration Tribunal will determine the amount of remuneration to be provided to the Inspector-General, but if no amount has been set, the remuneration amount will be prescribed in the regulations. Recreation and other leave can be determined by the Remuneration Tribunal or the Minister, subject to any conditions the Minister determines. The Inspector-General is required to notify the Minister of any conflicts of interest that may affect the proper performance of his/her functions.
After the end of the financial year the Inspector-General must prepare and give a report to the Minister for presentation to the Parliament. The report must contain details of directions given by the Minister to conduct reviews during the year and details of any action taken by the Director of Biosecurity as the result of review findings since the last report. The reports are to be tabled in Parliament or otherwise made publicly available shortly after the Minister receives the report.
The Inspector-General may delegate functions or powers to certain staff. In performing functions of exercising powers under a delegation the delegate must comply with any directions of the Inspector-General.
The Inspector-General must set a review program and consult at least once a year on the program with both the Director of Biosecurity and the Minister. Despite the requirement for consultation, the Inspector-General cannot be directed by the Director of Biosecurity on whether or not a particular subject or matter is to be reviewed, how a particular review is to be conducted, or the priority to be given to a review. The Minister, however, can direct the Inspector-General to conduct a review.
Conducting a review
The Inspector-General can require persons to provide information or give evidence that is relevant to a review, subject to legal professional privilege (allowing certain information between a person and their lawyer to remain confidential). When giving this information, persons will also have protection from self-incrimination – the information given can't be held admissible against the person in most civil and criminal proceedings. The Inspector-General can also invite submissions from the public, or from particular persons or organisations, and it is up to the Inspector-General how to advertise and approach the submission process.
The Inspector-General can make submissions available to the public, except if it specifically identifies an APS employee, a consultant to the department or it contains information relating to a matter specified in a certificate given by the Minister. If the information in a submission is confidential, the person making a submission may request that all or part of the submission is not made publically available. If that request is refused, the person can require all or part of the submission to be returned or withdrawn.
The Inspector-General and people assisting the Inspector-General can enter premises to conduct reviews wherever the Director of Biosecurity, biosecurity industry participants under an approved arrangement or APS employees perform functions or exercise powers under the Biosecurity Bill. The Inspector-General is required to give notice to the Director of Biosecurity or the occupier, and has a number of powers he or she can exercise when entering premises. These powers include:
- inspecting the premises
- observing activities
- taking records
- testing or taking samples.
The Inspector-General must exercise care and have regard to the disruption caused when performing such powers.
Reports of reviews
After completing a review, the Inspector-General must prepare a written report for the Minister setting out the subject and findings of the review, evidence that the review findings are based on and any recommendations resulting from the review.
BIRA process reviews
The Inspector-General can undertake reviews of the Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis (BIRA) process in certain circumstances. The powers and functions of the Inspector-General are more limited in the review of BIRAs compared to his or her other review functions. The review undertaken by the Inspector-General may only consider the process that was undertaken and cannot consider the merits or science of a BIRA decision.
Upon publication of a provisional final BIRA report, stakeholders have the opportunity to appeal where they believe there was a significant deviation from the BIRA process that adversely affects their interests. The review of the BIRA process by the Inspector-General is triggered by stakeholders submitting a valid appeal to the Inspector-General. If there are no valid grounds for appeal (for example if the appeal is not about process) then the appeal will be rejected. If there are valid grounds for appeal then the Inspector-General will undertake a review of that particular BIRA process.
There are a number of offences under the Inspector-General legislation. A person commits an offence in cases where the Inspector-General believes that person has information relevant to a review, and they refuse to:
- provide that information
- answer questions or produce documents on the information when required
- make an oath or affirmation about the information.
It is also an offence for the current or previous Inspector-General or staff to disclose confidential information in certain circumstances.
These Explanatory Materials are provided for the information and benefit of the general public and stakeholders in the reforms of Australia’s biosecurity system. The Materials attempt to explain, in a summary form, the intended effect of the potential reforms. The department does not make any guarantees, undertakings, representations or warranties that the information contained or referred to in the Explanatory Materials is accurate, reliable, current or complete.
You should not rely on the information contained or referred to in the Explanatory Materials as reflecting the current or future state and effect of Australian’s biosecurity law but rather, you should exercise your own skill and judgment and make your own enquiries. Where necessary, you should seek your own independent legal advice that is relevant to your particular circumstances.
30 Nov 2012