Victorian Agriculture Legislation Amendment Bill Receives Royal Assent

Thursday 16 June 2022 @ 11.46 a.m. | Legal Research

On 5 April 2022, the Agriculture Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (Vic) ("the Bill") was introduced to the Legislative Assembly by Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allen ("the Minister") on behalf of Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas. Ms Allen also delivered the second reading speech in the Legislative Assembly.

The Bill was passed by the Assembly on 12 May 2022 and subsequently introduced and passed with amendments by the Legislative Council on 26 May 2022. On 7 June 2022, the Assembly agreed to the Council's amendments and the Bill passed both houses of Parliament. The Agriculture Legislation Amendment Act 2022 (Vic) ("the Act") received royal assent on 15 June 2022.

The Act has yet to commence.

Purpose of the Act

The Act contains amendments that aim to help safeguard food security, food safety and access to export markets which are vital for Victoria’s economy.

Firstly, the Act intends to strengthen and modernise inspection and enforcement powers for authorised officers under various Acts, for example:

  • the Act amends the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) to harmonise legislated thresholds for tetrahydrocannabinol ("THC") in low-THC cannabis with other states and territories; and
  • the Act amends the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2011 (Vic) to harmonise some provisions with farm debt mediation legislation in other States.

Secondly, the Act makes amendments to the offences and penalties of various schemes. For instance, the Act creates new offences under:

  • the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 (Vic) to address biosecurity risks;

  • the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 (Vic) to underpin livestock and bee traceability through the supply chain; and

  • the Plant Biosecurity Act 2010 (Vic) for inappropriate use of plant health documents, and the sale of diseased plants.

Thirdly, the Act makes various amendments intended to modernise, streamline and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of various legislative schemes. For instance, the Act intends to:

  • improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the legislative scheme governing authorities for low-THC cannabis;
  • strengthen farmers’ rights to farm debt mediation through various amendments and streamline the administration of the farm debt mediation scheme by transferring all administrative responsibilities to the Victorian Small Business Commission;
  • clarify requirements for giving notices, making requests and recovery of debts under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 (Vic);
  • clarify circumstances in which an Importation Order can be made to prevent entry of pests and diseases into Victoria; and the notification of relevant persons, and taking of samples, when plants are seized or detained under the Plant Biosecurity Act 2010 (Vic).

The Act also makes a wide range of amendments to improve the efficiency and flexibility of governance arrangements and the administrative structure of various schemes including:

  • the governance arrangements for the livestock compensation funds under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 (Vic); and
  • the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria under the Veterinary Practice Act 1997 (Vic).

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Agriculture Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (VIC) and supporting material available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service

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