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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8642

Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (10:29): I rise to speak on the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment (Inventory) Bill 2011, which amends the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989. This act originally established a notification and assessment scheme on a national system for the regulation of industrial chemicals. It was designed to provide protection for people's health and safety when dealing with these chemicals and provide for registration when people propose to introduce industrial chemicals. The act is administered by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, or NICNAS. The bill before us makes two main amendments to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989. The first is to allow for a mechanism to transfer chemicals from one government regulatory agency to NICNAS. The second set of amendments are designed to improve the efficiency of the scheme's internal processes. I would like to briefly cover these in a little more detail.

The main amendment contained within the bill before us will create a mechanism to transfer the chemicals from regulation under one government agency to the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances under the management of NICNAS. It will achieve this by allowing the director of NICNAS to add to the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances chemicals which have been transferred to the industrial chemicals framework from other Commonwealth regulatory schemes. Currently, in the absence of this transfer mechanism, introducers of chemicals to the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances which were previously regulated under other Commonwealth regulatory schemes have been forced to meet the requirements of the framework and the associated notification and assessment costs. This amendment will remove this extra burden created by the government decision to transfer regulation of certain chemicals from one regulatory framework to NICNAS.

The second amendment formalises the notification and assessment arrangements for UV filters in secondary sunscreen products. These arrangements have been in place since October 2008 and these amendments just formalise that process. When cosmetics were transferred from the TGA to NICNAS in 2007, it was agreed that the data requirements under the TGA relating to UV products be maintained. This bill updates the NICNAS schedule to this act to cater for the additional data requirements relating to UV products.

The third and more technical amendment contained within this bill removes the requirement for NICNAS to publish summary assessment reports. Summary assessment reports were originally used when the full chemical assessment reports were not publicly available unless they were purchased in hard copy. The summary assessment reports provided a summary of the report and were available free of charge. The full NICNAS assessment reports are now freely available on the internet, making the need for summary reports obsolete. Removing the requirements for NICNAS to duplicate reports should increase the efficiencies of the scheme.

It is a rare thing to see the government decreasing the regulatory burden on business and industry, and making their departments smaller and more efficient, but this bill seems to do exactly that: it decreases the regulatory burden while increasing the efficiency of the scheme. For this reason, the coalition will be supporting this bill through the parliament. I can only hope that we start to see more reductions in red tape from the government.