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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2822

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South Australia) (12:03): I indicate the coalition's support for this package of amendments which essentially establish the Product Stewardship Advisory Group. This ties in with amendments that are to be moved by the government. We hope these amendments will together provide greater certainty for industry and for all those who are stakeholders within the operation of this act once it is passed.

We heard the concerns that Senator Ludlum outlined, that people were not sure that there was sufficient certainty about where things were going under the operation of the product stewardship scheme, the priorities for future schemes and whether they would be considered in the context of voluntary, co-regulatory or mandatory schemes, exactly how these things would work, how priorities would be set and how much forewarning there would be that an industry could be captured by such a scheme.

Whilst the government has been at pains throughout to emphasise that processes of the regulatory impact statement and otherwise will take some time, that the prioritisation work done by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council will take some time and that there should be in the normal operation of things a good period of time for anyone to become aware that their industry is under consideration, the expec­tation is that these things will always be done in a consultative and cooperative framework. You will get the best outcomes by involving industry along the way. All of those things aside and despite the assurances given, it was still thought to be beneficial to the trans­parency of the operation of the scheme for other stakeholders to have the opportunity to have input about the priorities and, for the certainty of industry, that within the legislation there was a framework for input and prioritising and that that framework ensured that there was some public awareness of it.

The amendments moved by Senator Ludlam to establish the Product Stewardship Advisory Group provide for a structure for that input, for advice to the minister and to the council and for prioritisation. The amendments to be moved by Senator Ludlam shortly require the publishing of products that are being considered for accreditation or regulation under the act. They tie in with this and will ensure that there is public awareness and certainty for all parties. Again, I express my thanks to the other parties for the cooperative approach in addressing the concerns that the Senate committee identified and indicate the coalition's support for these amendments.