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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2808

Senator FARRELL (South AustraliaParliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water) (11:10): I thank all the contributors to this debate on the Product Stewardship Bill, particularly Senators Birmingham, Fisher and Ludlam. I noted the complimentary remarks from Senators Fisher and Ludlam, but really the credit should go to my staff and also to the people from the department, Diana Wright and Kelly Pearce, who have worked so hard to ensure that this legislation passes the parliament. It is reassuring that we have had such strong support and such strong cooperation from the opposition and the Greens so that we get a more effective and consistent approach to reducing the impact of products and hazardous substances in products on the environment and on human health.

Senator Birmingham raised a couple of issues, which I would like to specifically address. The first related to the regulatory impact statement. The bill sits within a strong governance framework that encourages consultation and evidence based decision making. Before any decision to regulate a product can be made, a regulatory impact analysis is required. As explained in paragraph 19 of the explanatory memoran­dum, this is both government and COAG policy. The regulatory impact analysis is a robust process that articulates the problems to be addressed. It assesses not only the economic but also the social and environ­mental benefits and costs in taking action to address a particular problem. There is no preconception that a particular solution like product stewardship is the best approach; a range of options is considered.

The impact analysis process typically involves significant consultation. For example, the television and computers con­sultation regulatory impact statement was released and public meetings were run—also a requirement to publish the results of this process. Once a decision to regulate is made, taking into account the impact analysis in section 17, the Legislative Instruments Act requires consultations on the regulation.

Senator Birmingham raised the letter that the Law Council sent to the committee. The letter raised the issue of use of the logo to support accreditation of voluntary schemes and, in particular, the interaction of the bill with the Trade Marks Act. In essence, the Law Council's concern was that the bill duplicates elements of the Trade Marks Act dealing with what are known as certification trademarks. These provisions in the Trade Marks Act allow, for example, a body like the Heart Foundation to register the Heart Foundation tick and certify that certain goods meet the Heart Foundation's standards. I have sought advice from my department and, through the department, from IP Australia on this matter. I am advised that the bill complements rather than duplicates the Trade Marks Act provisions. In fact, it is anticipated that the product stewardship logo would be required as a certification trademark under the Trade Marks Act, which I hope answers Senator Birmingham's question. Without any further discussion, I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.