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Better regulation of chemicals.



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Better Regulation of Chemicals Tony Burke posted Saturday, 14 August 2010

A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will deliver on reforms to the regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Australia, to better protect human health and the environment.

The reforms will also cut red tape for farmers and business and encourage the development of modern, cleaner, greener and safer chemicals.

The regulation of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Australia is overseen by the independent Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Inefficiencies in the system have led to a backlog of chemicals requiring review and a disincentive for companies to invest in cutting-edge Australian technology.

Federal Labor has recognised the system is not working as effectively as it should and has been looking at options for reform.

The details announced today will build on this significant groundwork.

A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will:

· Deliver a more efficient way to review chemicals of concern - using the most up-to-date international research more effectively and making it easier for the APVMA to initiate that process.

· Put the onus on chemical companies to prove their products remain safe at regular intervals - bringing Australia into line with most regulators in the United States and Europe.

· Move to ensure that if chemicals are banned in a comparable market overseas, trigger a process for review of domestic use of the chemical.

· Allow the science used in approvals in comparable markets overseas to be considered in applications for Australian use.

· Deliver a risk management framework to match the level of regulation with the level of risk and focus resources on the higher risk products. This will also allow approvals of new, safer chemicals to be fast-tracked.

· Boost the APVMA’s funding by $8.75 million over the forward estimates and by about $20 million over five years to 2015-16, ahead of a planned move to greater cost recovery from 2012-13.

· Establish an Independent Science Panel to report annually on the APVMA’s progress in reducing the backlog of chemical reviews and assessing chemicals efficiently, according to risk.

The Gillard Labor Government recognises that the majority of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Australia are used in an effective way that minimises risk to human health and the environment.

These chemicals are an integral part of our agricultural and veterinary sectors - helping to eradicate pests and disease which could have a devastating impact.

But we need a major overhaul, to transform a cumbersome system into a cutting-edge system which is better for the environment, better for human health, helps to make Australia more globally competitive and supports jobs.

For example, industry in Canada have developed a product that reduces methane emissions in cattle by a claimed 20 per cent.

Australia is losing out on access to these chemicals, because of red tape and inefficiencies in our system.

These reforms will build on other Federal Labor achievements including:

· Our record $200 million investment through Reef Rescue, which is supporting farmers and community groups to reduce pollutants flowing into the reef by 25 per cent and building its resilience to climate change.

· Our $2 billion Caring for our Country program, which is giving farmers, Landcare groups and other community organisations the support they need to improve biodiversity and improve land management.

The net cost of these new proposals is $5.0 million over the forward estimates. This takes account of a $1.25 million saving from concluding the Re-establishment Grants element of the Climate Change Adjustment Program one year early as well as increased cost recovery of $2.5 million. This funding will be fully offset over the forward estimates, consistent with the Gillard Labor Government’s commitment to return the budget to surplus in three years.

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