Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology

The Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology was previously known as the Gene Technology Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council). The then Ministerial Council was established by the intergovernmental Gene Technology Agreement 2001, to govern the activities of the Gene Technology Regulator.

Page last updated: 11 May 2016

On 13 February 2011, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to establish a new Council System. As part of the new system the Ministerial Council became the Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology (GT Forum). With this change, the remit for the Ministerial Council has been withdrawn, except in cases where it is referred to by name in instruments such as legislation, treaties and intergovernmental agreements.



Scope/objectives

The Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology (GT Forum) is established by the intergovernmental Gene Technology Agreement 2001 (the Agreement). Functions conferred upon the GT Forum by the Agreement are to:
  1. issue policy principles, policy guidelines and codes of practice to govern the activities of the Gene Technology Regulator (the Regulator) and the operation of the Scheme (the "Scheme" refers to the national legislative scheme to protect the health and safety of people and to protect the environment, by identifying risks posed by, or as a result of, gene technology and by managing those risks through regulating certain dealings with genetically modified organisms);
  2. approve proposed regulations for the purpose of the Scheme;
  3. approve by special majority any extension of an emergency dealing determination;
  4. approve the appointment (and, if necessary, the dismissal) of the Regulator, and of the chairpersons of the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee (GTTAC) and the Gene Technology Ethics and Community Consultative Committee (GTECCC) and advise the responsible Commonwealth Minister on the appointment of the members of those bodies;
  5. ensure co-ordination with other Fora on matters relating to gene technology and, in particular, harmonisation of regulatory processes relating to GM products;
  6. oversee generally the implementation of the Scheme;
  7. consider and, if thought fit, agree on proposed changes to the Scheme;
  8. initiate a review of the Scheme in accordance with the specifications of the Gene Technology Agreement; and
  9. perform any other function conferred on the GT Forum by the Gene Technology Agreement.

Composition

Membership of the GT Forum includes one ministerial member from the Commonwealth and all States and Territories. Each member is to be nominated by their Head of Government. Currently, the GT Forum comprises Ministers from a range of portfolios including health, agriculture and primary industries.

Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology (as at 11 May 2016)

Jurisdiction
Representative
CommonwealthThe Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP
Assistant Minister for Health
QLDThe Hon Leeanne Enoch MP
Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation
NSWThe Hon Niall Blair MP
Minister for Primary Industries
VICThe Hon Jill Hennessey MP
VIC Minister for Health
SAThe Hon Jack Snelling MP
Minister for Health and Ageing
WAThe Hon Dean Nalder MLA
Minister for Agriculture and Food
TASThe Hon Jeremy Rockliff MP
Minister for Primary Industries and Water
NTThe Hon Gary Higgins MLA
Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries
ACTThe Hon Simon Corbell MLA
Minister for Health

Chairing arrangements and meeting program

The Agreement provides for the GT Forum to determine the rotation of the position of Chair annually (or at such longer intervals as the Council determines).

The GT Forum meets at such times and places as a majority of the members determine however, most items are considered out-of-session.

Associated meetings of officials

The GT Forum is supported by the Gene Technology Standing Committee (the Standing Committee). The Standing Committee comprises senior officials from all jurisdictions and is chaired by a senior official from the Commonwealth Government Department of Health.

Secretariat arrangements

Officers from the Department of Health provide secretariat support for the GT Forum and the Standing Committee.

Secretariat contact details:

Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology Secretariat
Department of Health
GPO Box 9848
MDP 1050
Canberra ACT 2601

Fax: 02 6289 8060
Email Gene Technology Secretariat: gene.technology.secretariat@health.gov.au

Commonwealth contact

The first point of contact for GT Forum or Standing Committee business is the Secretariat.


The Gene Technology Act 2000 and the Gene Technology Regulations 2001

The Gene Technology Act 2000 (the Act) was developed in consultation with all Australian jurisdictions over a number of years to establish a nationally consistent regulatory system for gene technology.

The object of the Act is to protect the health and safety of people, and to protect the environment, by identifying risks posed by or as a result of gene technology, and by managing those risks through regulating certain dealings with genetically modified organisms.

The Act also establishes a statutory officer, the Gene Technology Regulator, to make decisions under the Act.

The Act is supported by the Gene Technology Regulations 2001 (the Regulations); an inter-governmental agreement; and corresponding legislation that is being enacted in each State and Territory.

At the 3 July 2008 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, all jurisdictions signed the inter-governmental agreement reaffirming their commitment to a nationally consistent scheme for gene technology.

The operation of the Act and Regulations is overseen by the Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology.

The Gene Technology Act 2000 (this link will take you to the Federal Register of Legislation internet site)
The Gene Technology Regulations 2001 (this link will take you to the Federal Register of Legislation internet site)
The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator
The Gene Technology Agreement

Policy principles

A key part of the Scheme is the provision for policy principles that may be issued by the GT Forum to guide the operation of the national regulatory system. They also govern the work of the Regulator.

Gene Technology (Recognition of Designated Areas) Principle 2003

Under the Gene Technology Act 2000, the GT Forum has the power to issue a policy principle which would recognise States' and Territories rights to designate under State and Territory law special areas that are either for genetically modified (GM) or non-GM crops for market purposes. The Regulator must then act consistently with the policy principle.

At its 24 May 2002 meeting, the GT Forum (then known as the Ministerial Council) agreed to start work on this policy principle. The Standing Committee, consisting of senior Commonwealth, State and Territory government officials, developed a draft policy principle and related documents. These documents were released for public comment in May 2003.

Once the consultation process was completed, a report of the outcome of the consultation was prepared and used to inform consideration of the final policy principle by the then Ministerial Council. On 31 July 2003, the then Ministerial Council agreed to the issuing of the Gene Technology (Recognition of Designated Areas) Principle 2003. The policy principle was published in the Commonwealth Government Special Gazette No. S340 on Friday 5 September 2003 and were tabled in each House of the Australian Parliament on 9 September 2003.

A copy of final policy principle, explanatory statement, and final regulatory impact statement can be obtained by emailing the Gene Technology Secretariat at gene.technology.secretariat@health.gov.au.

Emergency Dealing Extension Determination 2008 (this link will take you to the Federal Register of Legislation internet site)