Labor verifies strengthened powers for the Inspector-General of Biosecurity
24 February 2015
In Senate Estimates last night the new improved powers of the Inspector-General of Biosecurity were confirmed by the Labor Opposition.
Labor Senator Joe Bullock (WA) in cross-examining the Interim Inspector-General, Dr Michael Bond, before the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee last night asked:
“Talking about independence ... presumably you have had a look at the new Biosecurity Bill, do you think that your function of providing independent assessment of Australia’s biosecurity arrangements can be carried out as effectively as it should be under the terms of the new Bill?”
Dr Michael Bond responded: “I’ve been in the job now for what 20 months or so and during that time I’ve had no reason to be concerned about the response I’ve had either from within the Department or from outside it.
“The reality is that, as I understand the terms of the new Biosecurity Bill, I think my position will be strengthened if anything.
“Because at the present time all I rely on is an informal charter with the Minister. So as I understand it the intention is that the Minister will, when he thinks it’s appropriate, delegate powers to the Inspector-General.”
Opposition Agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon has spent weeks making spurious claims that the Inspector-General had been abolished by the Coalition Government.
Even the Opposition Leader, Mr Shorten has made the same false claim.
Not only was the claim false, the Labor Party has been able to confirm there is an Inspector-General and that we are strengthening his powers.
Under-cross examination in Estimates from Labor we now know Dr Bond exists and Mr Fitzgibbon’s colleagues in the Senate have been able to confirm that his powers and independence will be enhanced under the Biosecurity Bill currently going through the Parliament.
“As own goals go, this is a spectacular one,” Minister Joyce said today.