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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8644

Ms KING (BallaratParliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport and Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing) (10:37): I thank the members for Boothby and La Trobe for their contribution to the debate on the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment (Inventory) Bill 2011. The bill does fulfil a range of government objectives by continuing to protect public health and the environment; by reducing the regulatory burden on industry; by providing more information on chemicals in use in Australia; and by maximising the efficient use of NICNAS resources. The bill enables finalisation of the government's reform of the regulation of cosmetics, thereby creating long-term, sustainable and competitive advantage for the cosmetics industry while ensuring the continued safeguarding of health, safety and the environment. While the ingredients in certain cosmetics transferred from the TGA have been regulated by NICNAS as industrial chemicals for some time, these ingredients have been regulated as new industrial chemicals with the attendant notification and assessment costs of reporting obligation. The bill makes the necessary changes to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act to recognise these chemicals as existing chemicals through entry on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances. These mechanisms will also provide a regulatory pathway for future reforms that involve the transfer of regulatory responsibility for chemicals to NICNAS should a need be demonstrated.

At the same time the amendments also address a public health gap for chemicals in transferred cosmetic products by ensuring that the previous TGA controls become conditions of use under the NICNAS inventory. Further safeguards are built into the transfer process, with the bill providing the director of NICNAS with the discretion not to place chemicals on the inventory should they pose an unreasonable risk. The transfer process will be open to public scrutiny and subject to review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Moreover, chemicals can only be transferred to the public section of the inventory and not the confidential section, further ensuring public scrutiny of the transfer process.

The bill will also formalise the application by NICNAS of the TGA's data requirements for UV filters in certain products transferred from the TGA—namely, in secondary sunscreening products such as moisturisers. The schedule of the act lists data requirements for new chemicals that must be provided by industry. However, UV filters have some additional data requirements that are not covered by requirements already in the act. NICNAS currently obtains this data through an existing power in the act which allows NICNAS to seek further data not in the schedule. The bill will create a new part in the schedule for these additional data requirements so that industry will know upfront the data required for the assessment of these particular chemicals. This will deliver greater efficiencies and certainty for industry, improve the utilisation of NICNAS resources, and maintain consistency of approach across regulatory schemes responsible for UV filters.

In addition to implementing cosmetics reforms, the second objective achieved by this bill is to make technical amendments to improve clarity and consistency within the act. These proposed amendments do not place any significant additional requirements on the industrial chemicals industry but instead provide some added efficiencies by clarifying NICNAS data requirements in accordance with international best practice.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the support of stakeholders for the proposed amendments and their ongoing cooperation and assistance in the development of this bill. As a result of the collaborative approach adopted between government, industry and the community, I believe we have been able to achieve a well-considered and appropriate piece of amending legislation. I also acknowledge the work of NICNAS staff and thank the opposition for their support on these bills. I commend the bill to the chamber.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.