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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8643

Ms SMYTH (La Trobe) (10:33): I am pleased to support the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment (Inventory) Bill 2011. The bill amends the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989, which established a national system of notification and assessment of industrial chemicals used in Australia. The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme administer the act, and the activities of NICNAS underpin essential advice to other government agencies which make up Australia's regulatory system for industrial chemicals. The bill underpins the completion of the cosmetic regulatory reforms which were largely implemented in 2007. It completes the reforms to the cosmetic therapeutic interface and it puts in place significant technical changes to enhance the administration and efficiency of the industrial chemical scheme's assessment processes.

In 2007, to facilitate the transfer regulatory responsibility for certain low-risk cosmetic products from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to NICNAS, the NICNAS cosmetics standard was introduced. The standard enables NICNAS to set standards for certain cosmetics and impose penalties for noncompliance. However, a mechanism to transfer the chemicals in these cosmetic products from the TGA to the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances was not developed. This bill establishes that mechanism, allowing the transfer of these chemicals to AICS as well as enabling NICNAS to legally impose the same controls that had previously been applied by the TGA. The transfer process will be open and transparent, with any proposal to transfer a chemical onto the inventory being published by the director of NICNAS, with this also open to review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. In the absence of any transfer mechanisms some introducers of chemicals have had to meet the more stringent requirements of the new chemicals framework with the associated notification and assessment costs or reporting obligations.

The bill also includes technical amendments to the act in relation to NICNAS's assessment processes. The act currently requires the director of NICNAS to prepare and publish separate summary reports for all of the organisation's chemical assessment reports. This practice was introduced at a time when the full assessment report had to be purchased and was only available in paper form. However, NICNAS now publishes the full public report on its website for all interested parties to download free of charge. To facilitate public access to these reports, NICNAS will also publish a short notice outlining the key content of new assessment reports in the Chemical Gazettewith a link to those reports. The bill also includes technical amendments to the act's schedule to improve the consistency of Australia's data requirements with other national and international assessment schemes, particularly those requirements that apply to UV filters in cosmetics.

The cosmetics reforms in 2007 included the transfer of regulatory responsibility for secondary sunscreen products which are applied to the skin—for example, moisturisers containing a sunscreening chemical. NICNAS has assessed the UV filter chemicals in these products by requesting on a case-by-case basis the additional data required for sunscreens under the TGA. The bill allows the more efficient collection of data by creating a new section in the schedule of data requirements, including requirements specific to UV filters. The intent of this amendment to the schedule is to formalise current arrangements and maintain a consistent approach to the assessment of these chemicals across regulatory schemes. The proposed amendments will not place any significant additional requirements on the industrial chemicals industry, contrary to the remarks of the previous speaker. The bill has been developed in consultation with stakeholders and as a result of the collaborative approach adopted by the government, industry and the community. The amendments enable NICNAS to regulate chemicals transferred from other agencies and to ensure consistent data requirements and administrative processes to provide a much more efficient process and maintain transparency.

These amendments deliver on the Gillard government's commitment to ensure the most efficient regulatory system is in place for industrial chemicals while maintaining existing levels of worker safety, public health and environmental standards. I commend the bill to the House.