The traditional knowledge of Queensland’s First Nations peoples will be better protected through reforms introduced by the Palaszczuk Government in Queensland Parliament today.
Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch said the introduction of this legislation follows the release of an options paper last year to find the best way forward in reforming the Biodiscovery Act 2004.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to reforming the Biodiscovery Act to bring it in line with international protocols that ensure the benefits of biodiscovery are shared with First Nations peoples,” Ms Enoch.
“In 2016, a review of the Biodiscovery Act indicated the rights of First Nations peoples needed to be protected regarding the use of their resources and traditional knowledge for biodiscovery.
“Biodiscovery uses native, biological material for molecular, biochemical or genetic analysis in various industries, including pharmaceuticals and bioplastics.
“Through biodiscovery, we have seen the development of a range of products from pharmaceutical and medicinal, to agricultural and industrial.
“But previously, First Nations peoples did not have legal protection to prevent the unauthorised use of traditional knowledge or resources.
“Under the new legislation, biodiscovery entities must seek agreement with traditional knowledge custodians before using traditional knowledge.
“This reform is a critical step towards recognising the rights that First Nations peoples hold in relation to their traditional knowledge.”
Minister Enoch said a key issue included implementing the Nagoya Protocol, which states that biodiscovery can only be conducted with the consent of those who have a right to grant access, including Indigenous people and local communities.
The Nagoya Protocol also requires that the benefits of biodiscovery are fairly and equitably shared.
“The new legislation also provides for a traditional knowledge code of practice, which will outline how those in the industry can comply with the traditional knowledge obligation,” Minister Enoch said.
“Reform of the Act was also a priority to ensure Queensland’s biodiscovery framework enabled the Queensland biodiscovery industry to commercialise and export to countries that have ratified the Nagoya Protocol.”
Managing Director of the Myuma Group Colin Saltmere said First Nations peoples of Australia have dreamings and birthrights to traditional knowledge and indigenous intellectual property for the land, sea and sky.
“These reforms will mean Indigenous intellectual property and our traditional knowledge will be recognised in legislation and cannot be exploited,” Mr Saltmere said.
“When new products are developed based on traditional knowledge or sourced from traditional lands, First Nations peoples will have true and informed consent and benefit sharing arrangements for all land tenure.
“The legislation recognises the strong connection between First Nations peoples and the biological resources of our lands and seas for all flora and fauna.”
The Myuma Group worked with the Queensland Government on the consultation process to reform the act.
Minister Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government is committed to stimulating and streamlining biodiscovery and encouraging investment in the industry.
“This legislative reform assists the biodiscovery industry to meet their international obligations regarding access to genetic resources and sharing the benefits of research and commercialisation,” she said.
“Reform will help those in the biodiscovery industry to collaborate internationally and access important global markets.
“It simplifies the approvals process, by removing the requirement to apply for and obtain an approved biodiscovery plan and by not duplicating the access and benefit sharing requirements under the Food and Agriculture Organisation Treaty process.
“And it will reduce the time required to comply with the Act by making the process more efficient, and will encourage new biodiscovery activities in Queensland.”
For more information, please visit: https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/licences-permits/plants-animals/biodiscovery
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch