Chapter 8, Part 2 - Human biosecurity emergencies

The formal consultation process on the draft legislation closed on 24 October 2012. All the submissions made as part of the initial phase of the consultation were considered and where appropriate amendments were made to the draft legislation.

The Biosecurity Bill 2012 and the Inspector-General of Biosecurity Bill were introduced into Parliament on 28 November 2012.

The eighth chapter of the Biosecurity Bill is one of four chapters that relate to human health provisions of the Bill.

Page last updated: 20 February 2013

Key points

  • The Governor-General can declare a biosecurity emergency if a disease or pest poses a severe and immediate threat on a nationally significant scale to human, animal or plant health, the environment or the economy.
  • The Governor-General may declare a human biosecurity emergency if a listed human disease poses a severe and immediate threat on a nationally significant scale to human health.
  • The Health Minister may give directions and take actions that are necessary to control, reduce or remove the threat or harm.
  • The Health Minister may also give directions and take actions in accordance with recommendations made under the International Health Regulations (2005) to manage a public health event of national significance.


  • Human biosecurity emergencies

    Biosecurity Bill 2012, Chapter 8, Part 2 - Human biosecurity emergencies (PDF 177 KB)
    Biosecurity Bill 2012, Chapter 8, Part 2 - Human biosecurity emergencies (Word 132 KB)

    Summary

    Overview

    Chapter 8 of the Biosecurity Bill outlines the powers and provisions relating to the declaration of a state of biosecurity emergency and the management of associated biosecurity risks.

    The Biosecurity Bill includes sections similar to 2A, 2B, 3, 12A and 13A of the Quarantine Act 1908 that allow the Governor-General to declare the existence of an epidemic caused by a quarantinable pest or disease. It allows the Minister to give directions or take appropriate action to control or eradicate the danger posed by the epidemic. The Act also allows the Minister to empower national response agencies to give directions or take actions in an emergency.

    The Biosecurity Bill simplifies these powers and broadens the scope of the emergency provisions to cover the threat posed by a pest or disease to human, plant and animal health, the environment and the economy.

    Human biosecurity emergency

    The Governor-General may declare that a human biosecurity emergency exists if the Health Minister is satisfied that a listed human disease is posing a severe and immediate threat, or is causing harm on a nationally significant scale to human health; or a recommendation has been made by the World Health Organization under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR).

    The Health Minister may, during an emergency, give any directions and take any actions within the scope of the quarantine power; or to give effect to an IHR recommendation. To confine the scope of directions and actions to those within Commonwealth power, the directions and actions a Minister can take to address an emergency are to be listed within the Bill. EMP32(2) contains the range of directions the Health Minister can take to address a human biosecurity emergency.

    Human health emergencies are primarily managed collaboratively by Commonwealth and state and territory agencies and will continue to be so under the Bill.