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Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Page: 2

Mr PYNE (Minister for Ageing) (9:06 AM) —I move:

ยท               That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to introduce the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment (Cosmetics) Bill 2007. The bill presents amendments that deliver on the government’s commitment to reforming the regulation of cosmetics, creating long-term, sustainable and competitive advantage for the cosmetics industry while ensuring the continued safeguarding of health, safety and environmental standards.

The bill makes a number of changes to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989. The act establishes a system of notification and assessment of industrial chemicals to protect health, safety and the environment and to provide for registration of certain persons proposing to introduce industrial chemicals. The Department of Health and Ageing, through the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, NICNAS, administers the act.

As part of the government’s broader initiatives to reduce regulation, NICNAS established the Low Regulatory Concern Chemicals Task Force to investigate reform of the regulation of chemicals of low regulatory concern. While many of the reforms recommended by the task force were implemented through amendments to the act in 2004, the proposed reforms in relation to cosmetics regulation were further developed through a Cosmetics Implementation Working Group. In particular the working group was tasked with examining reform options to address interface issues relating to the regulation of cosmetics by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and NICNAS.

In November 2005, the government endorsed the proposed reform of cosmetic regulation in Australia—as reflected in the Regulation of cosmetic chemicals: final report and recommendations—including the establishment of NICNAS Cosmetic Guidelines. It was also noted that the reforms would be underpinned by legislation.

Mr Crean interjecting

Mr PYNE —I never tire of the enthusiasm of the member for Hotham! In the absence of legislative underpinning, the reforms were implemented on an administrative basis in relation to some specific cosmetics. Since early 2006, NICNAS has issued administrative permits which allow for the specified product to be regulated as a cosmetic under the interim arrangements provided that the product complies with the NICNAS Cosmetic Guidelines. The guidelines are not, however, enforceable and no penalties can be imposed for non-compliance. Further, there are some categories of cosmetics, such as skin whitening products and anti-ageing products, that are not subject to the interim arrangements and will not come within the remit of NICNAS until the legislative changes take effect.

These amendments therefore represent an important next step and reflect the government’s commitment to ensure the most efficient regulatory system is in place for industrial chemicals, including cosmetics.

While the ingredients in cosmetics have been regulated by NICNAS as industrial chemicals for quite some time, the bill represents an extension of the existing approach by enabling the minister to make standards for cosmetic products as a whole, that are imported into, or manufactured in, Australia.

The proposed standard for cosmetics will be based on the existing NICNAS Cosmetic Guidelines and will be developed in consultation with key stakeholders.

The approach adopted will deliver greater clarity and certainty for industry, capacity for NICNAS to take action in the event of non-compliance and, by so doing, ensure the protection of public health, occupational health and safety and the environment. The reforms also increase international harmonisation with Australia’s key trading partners and ensure greater access to the reforms for all relevant cosmetics products, reducing the regulatory burden and costs to industry.

It is also proposed that the opportunity be taken to make minor technical amendments to the act to improve clarity and consistency within the act. These proposed minor amendments will have no significant impact on business, do not place any restriction on competition and do not place any significant additional requirements on the industrial chemicals industry.

In summary, there is strong support for all of the proposed amendments. These amendments have been developed in response to industry concerns and in consultation with industry, government and the community. The proposed amendments will not affect the current operation of the act, but incorporate the regulation of cosmetics into the current regulatory scheme for industrial chemicals to enable a more efficient process for industry while maintaining existing levels of worker safety, public health and environmental standards. I commend the bill to the House.