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Thursday, 10 May 2007
Page: 10

Ms LEY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (9:37 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Amendment Bill 2007 (the bill) amends the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 (the administration act) to implement the outcome of the assessment of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) against the Uhrig review templates.

The APVMA is an Australian government statutory authority established to administer a joint Commonwealth and state/territory regulatory scheme, assuring the safety and effectiveness of agricultural and veterinary chemical products throughout Australia. The APVMA is an independent body corporate. It implements the legislative powers and functions provided to it under the legislation on behalf of all jurisdictions, including powers and functions conferred on it by state and territory legislation.

The amendments will provide for the authority to come into line with the best practice identified in the Australian government response to the Uhrig review recommendations. The objective of the Uhrig review was to consider existing governance arrangements for statutory authorities and office holders and to develop a best practice template of governance principles that could be applied to all statutory authorities and office holders.

My department carried out an assessment of the APVMA against the Uhrig review templates and concluded that the executive management corporate governance structure is most appropriate for the APVMA. The assessment concluded that the APVMA should retain its independence, but be reconstituted, with the current board of directors being replaced by an executive manager (chief executive officer) supported by an advisory board, with a similar range of skills and experiences to those currently specified for the APVMA board of directors. The bill before parliament implements these recommendations, which flow from the Uhrig report.

These reforms relate only to changing governance structures. As a result, there would be no significant changes to the day-to-day functions or independence of the APVMA. The APVMA would:

  • remain an independent body corporate called the APVMA,
  • retain its current functions and powers,
  • continue to be funded by cost-recovery from industry,
  • retain the provision for the conferral of powers by a state government law,
  • continue current stakeholder consultative arrangements, and
  • continue to receive policy direction from the Primary Industries Ministerial Council.

Consistent with the executive management governance structure, the APVMA will become subject to the provisions of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, rather than the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. Staff of the APVMA will be persons engaged under the provisions of the Public Service Act 1999 rather than persons employed under the ‘administration act’. The bill includes provision for these matters and the transitional issues associated with these reforms.

The amendments only affect the governance arrangements for the APVMA and do not impact on the authority’s functions or the administration of the national registration scheme for agricultural and veterinary chemicals. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Ms Plibersek) adjourned.