The national scheme will be underpinned by an Intergovernmental Agreement. By setting out many of the understandings between governments which have allowed the scheme to be developed, the Agreement will help to minimise the number of disputes which may arise during the operation of the scheme.

The Gene Technology Agreement will:

  • describe the main components of the co-operative national scheme and commit all governments to introduce substantially similar legislation in each jurisdiction;
  • set out the functions and membership of the Gene Technology Ministerial Council. The Council will:
    1. issue policy principles, policy guidelines and codes of practice to underpin the activities of the GTR and the operation of the regulatory framework;
    2. consider and agree changes, as required, to the national legislative framework;
    3. discuss matters related to gene technology regulation with other relevant Ministerial Councils;
    4. provide advice on the appointment and dismissal of the GTR; and
    5. oversee periodic reviews of the legislative framework.
The Ministerial Council will not be involved in decision making on individual applications. The Council will comprise one or more Ministers from each jurisdiction and the Commonwealth. At this stage, no decision has been made regarding the portfolio interests to be represented on the Council. It will, however, be the responsibility of each member to provide a “whole of Government” perspective on behalf of their jurisdiction;
  • provide for the maintenance of a nationally consistent scheme over time, including provisions for the amendment of the gene technology legislation;
  • describe the roles and responsibilities of each of the jurisdictions in the administration and enforcement of the scheme, including arrangements for the reimbursement of costs incurred by jurisdictions for services provided as part of the legislative scheme;
  • provide for the review of the implementation and effectiveness of the national scheme no later than five years after the commencement of the scheme;
Pending consideration of the Gene Technology Agreement by governments in all jurisdictions, it is anticipated that the Gene Technology Agreement will be made
publicly available in July 2000.