Jim McGinty

Jim McGinty

Attorney General; Minister for Health; Electoral Affairs

    Proposed Bill to address bio-terrorism and climate change

    9/02/2008 9:37 AM

    Health Minister Jim McGinty is inviting Western Australians to have their say on a new Public Health Act which will meet the demands of modern issues such as bio-terrorism, climate change and public health epidemics.

    “The current Health Act 1911 is long overdue for replacement,” Mr McGinty said.

    “The new Act will provide modern, flexible public health laws that better protect and promote public health as well as prevent illness and injury.

    “It will ensure that WA has a range of tools for tackling traditional and emerging public health concerns well into the future.

    “The proposed Act emphasises prevention and promotion rather than reaction and would allow preventative action to be taken where there was a serious risk to public health.

    “The Act also provides the powers that would enable potential health impacts and benefits of proposals to be taken into consideration.”

    The new public health legislation will:
    • remove legal barriers to public health standards being applied in indigenous communities;
    • establish clear frameworks for relationships with other agencies, in particular local government;
    • strengthen the State’s capacity to deal with public health emergencies, pandemics, chemical, biological or radiological (CBR) terrorism, or the public health consequences of other disasters;
    • streamline administrative processes; and
    • introduce a contemporary approach to managing public health in line with national best practice.
    “The old Act is outmoded and ineffective in combating 21st century communicable disease situations and the existing laws cannot be applied on land and premises owned or managed by the Crown or Crown agencies such as the Aboriginal Lands Trust,” the Minister said.

    Mr McGinty said the new executive director of Public Health Division, Dr Tarun Weeramanthri, would have responsibility for implementing the new Act.

    “Dr Weeramanthri’s appointment was one of the recommendations of a review into public health services carried out last year by Professor George Rubin,” he said.

    “Originally from WA, Dr Weeramanthri has been the Principal Medical Adviser and Chief Health Officer of the Northern Territory Department of Health and Community Services for the past four years.

    “He will have responsibility for policy development and planning and will establish stronger and more effective links with service delivery at the Area Health Service level, as well as with the health networks.”

    The proposed new Public Health Act is part of the Department of Health’s Strategic Intent Framework 2005-10.

    Submissions are invited from the public, Government agencies, non-Government organisations and businesses and an extensive public consultation program will run from February 1 to April 30.

    To make a submission, email newpublichealthact@health.wa.gov.au, phone 9388 4900 or post to Simon Denniss, Principal Project Officer (Legislation), Environmental Health Directorate, Department of Health, PO Box 8172, Perth Business Centre, WA 6849.

    For further information, visit http://www.newpublichealthact.health.wa.gov.au/home

    Minister's office - 9422 3000