Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 - poppy cultivation and processing licences (review)

This page provides general information and should not be considered as legal advice. Seek legal advice if you are unsure about your legal rights. Be aware that the law can change.

VCAT can review certain decisions of the Secretary to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries made under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 relating to poppy cultivation and poppy processing licences.

Cases we can hear

You may be able to apply to VCAT for a review if the Secretary has made a decision to:

  • refuse to issue a poppy cultivation licence or a poppy processing licence to you
  • refuse to issue to you or to renew your poppy cultivation licence or a poppy processing licence wholly or partly on the basis of protected information
  • refuse to renew a poppy cultivation licence or a poppy processing licence held by you
  • refuse to register a contract between a licensed grower and a licensed processor in the alkaloid poppy register
  • suspend, cancel or amend a poppy cultivation licence or a poppy processing licence held by you.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981– section 69UA(1).

If you have a decision document, use it to help you complete the VCAT application form and attach a copy of the document to your application.

Time limits

You must make your application within 28 days from when:

  • the decision was made, or
  • if you have requested a statement of reasons under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act, the statement of reasons is given to you or you are informed that a statement of reasons will not be given.

Protected information in cases under this Act

If VCAT receives an application for review under section 69UA(1)(a), (c) or (e), we must enquire of the Secretary whether the grounds for the refusal, suspension, cancellation or amendment were based on any protected information.

What will happen if the decision for refusal was based on protected information?

VCAT must appoint a special counsel to represent your interests.

A special counsel must be a barrister within the meaning of the Legal Profession Act 2004 who, in our opinion, has the appropriate skills and ability to represent your interests at the hearing.

Special counsel will communicate with you or your representative before they attend the hearing or obtain any confidential affidavit in relation to the application.

However, after the special counsel commences to attend the hearing or obtains any confidential affidavit in relation to the application, they:

  • must not take instructions from your or your representative
  • must not communicate any other information in relation to the hearing to you or your representative without permission from VCAT, except to tell you of any order made by VCAT at or in relation to the hearing.
  • may be required to sign a confidentiality undertaking to VCAT.

What will happen at the hearing?

A Presidential Member of VCAT will hear your case.

VCAT will decide whether or not the information is protected information. VCAT may hold the hearing or any part of it in private in order to decide whether or not the information is protected information.

If we decide to hold a hearing or part of a hearing in private, only the Chief Commissioner of Police and the special counsel can be present and they will make submissions to VCAT about whether the information is protected information and about whether you have the right character to be issued with a poppy cultivation or processing licence.

If we decide that none of the information is protected information, we will allow you into the hearing. If we decide that any of the information is protected information VCAT will prevent the release of the information and if special counsel wishes to speak with you, they can only do so with the permission of VCAT.

What can VCAT order?

Any order issued by VCAT must only state:

  • whether the decision of the Secretary is upheld or overturned, and
  • if the poppy cultivation licence or the poppy processing licence is not issued, reinstated or renewed (as the case requires), that you have failed to meet the fit and proper person requirements.

More about how we resolve your case

Read more about hearings at VCAT, professional representation, access and privacy and communicating with VCAT.