Inquiry into the provisions of the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017 and
Purpose of the Bills
On 1 June 2017, the Hon. Dr David Gillespie MP, Assistant Minister
for Health (Assistant Minister), presented the following suite of bills to the
House of Representatives (collectively, Bills):
- Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017;
Industrial Chemicals (Consequential Amendment and Transitional
Provisions) Bill 2017;
Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment Bill 2017;
Industrial Chemicals Charges (General) Bill 2017;
Industrial Chemicals Charges (Customs) Bill 2017; and
Industrial Chemicals Charges (Excise) Bill 2017.
Together the Bills reform Australia's system of industrial chemicals
regulation and establish a new scheme to be known as the Australian Industrial
Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS).
The new scheme replaces and simplifies the existing National Industrial
Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme.
In the 2015–16 Budget, the government announced plans to streamline the
regulatory framework for industrial chemicals by focusing regulatory attention
on the highest risk chemicals and seeking to remove barriers to lower risk
The Assistant Minister noted in his second reading speech that the
Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017 achieves the more streamlined regulatory
approach foreshadowed in the 2015–16 Budget.
Key provisions of the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017
The Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017 has 10 Parts.
Part 1 provides for preliminary machinery provisions and
definitions, including the definition of an industrial chemical for the purposes
of the legislation.
Part 2 requires introducers of industrial chemicals to be
registered, a Register to be kept and requires chemical introducers to pay a
Part 3 establishes a new system of risk-based categorisation of
industrial chemical introductions.
Part 4 provides a framework for the Executive Director to
initiate evaluations of industrial chemicals or matters relating to industrial
Part 5 establishes the Australian Inventory of Industrial
Chemicals and provides for the inclusion, variation or removal of an industrial
chemical from the Inventory.
Part 6 describes the information and reporting obligations of
persons under the scheme and enables people to apply for confidential business
Part 7 provides for monitoring, inspection and enforcement powers
under the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Act 2014.
Part 8 establishes the AICIS, the role and functions of the
Executive Director and renames the Industrial Chemicals Special Account.
Part 9 implements Australia's obligations under certain
international agreements, such as the Rotterdam Convention, and enables bans or
restrictions on industrial chemicals subject to certain international
Part 10 contains miscellaneous provisions including a power to
enable the Minister to make rules which will contain the operational detail of
the scheme, and makes provision for applications and review rights. Part 10 also
provides that animal test data should not be included with an application for a
chemical to be used in a cosmetic product in some circumstances.
Key provisions of the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment)
Amendment Bill 2017
Industrial chemicals are currently regulated by the Industrial
Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (IC(NA) Act). The Industrial
Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Amendment Bill 2017 amends the IC(NA)
Act to enable the early introduction of some aspects of the industrial
The Explanatory Memorandum to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and
Assessment) Amendment Bill 2017 provides that the changes in the Bill will:
...reduce unnecessary regulatory burden (by reducing reporting
requirements) and commence the process of reducing regulation for lower risk
chemicals (by exempting polymers of low concern from notification requirements).
Schedule 1 to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment)
Amendment Bill 2017 contains 12 items:
Items 1–3 substitute the definitions of 'new synthetic polymer'
and 'polymer of low concern' and allow for the introduction of these chemicals;
Items 4–6 reduce the regulatory burden on introducers by
relieving certain reporting requirements;
Items 7–12 provide for transitional and administrative provisions
relating to appeals and the registration charge payable by introducers.
The Explanatory Memorandum to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and
Assessment) Amendment Bill 2017 explains that the definition of 'new synthetic
polymer' more closely aligns with international approaches and the amended
definition of 'polymers of low concern' ensures that more polymers are exempted
from reporting requirements.
Key provisions of the Industrial Chemicals (Consequential Amendments and
Transitional Provisions) Bill 2017
The Industrial Chemicals (Consequential Amendments and Transitional
Provisions) Bill 2017 provides for consequential amendments and implements
transitional arrangements from the IC(NA) Act to the new Industrial Chemicals
No submitter raised concerns about the Industrial Chemicals (Consequential
Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2017.
Purpose and key provisions of the Industrial Chemicals (Customs) Bill 2017;
Industrial Chemicals Charges (Excise) Bill 2017; Industrial Chemicals Charges
(General) Bill 2017
The following bills (Charges Bills) are expressed in almost identical
Industrial Chemicals Charges (Customs) Bill 2017;
Industrial Chemicals Charges (Excise) Bill 2017;
Industrial Chemicals Charges (General) Bill 2017.
The Charges Bills impose a registration charge on the introducer of a
chemical to the extent that the registration charge is customs duty, excise
duty or neither a customs nor excise duty respectively.
The amount of the charge will be prescribed by regulations or worked out
in a method prescribed by the regulations.
Parliamentary Joint Committee on
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights did not consider that
any of the bills raised human rights concerns.
Scrutiny of Bills Committee
Senate Standing Committee on the Scrutiny of Bills (Scrutiny of Bills
Committee) gave initial consideration to the bills in Scrutiny Digest
No. 6 of 2017.
The committee raised a number of concerns about the Bills and requested advice
from the Assistant Minister.
Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017
The Scrutiny of Bills Committee raised the following concerns about the
Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017:
that not all decisions are 'reviewable decisions' and the Explanatory
Memorandum does not explain why some decisions are reviewable and others are
that clause 175 abrogates the privilege against
self-incrimination but the Explanatory Memorandum does not explain why it is
necessary to do so; and
that clause 180 provides that rules may be made that would incorporate
material that may not be freely available and may make the law difficult to
Industrial Chemicals (Consequential
Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2017
The Scrutiny of Bills Committee raised concerns that subitem 50(3) empowers
rules to be made that would modify the effect of the Act.
The Scrutiny of Bills Committee accepted that the migration of chemicals from
the existing inventory to the proposed inventory may require such a provision.
The Scrutiny of Bills Committee also raised concerns that subitem 50(4) provides
that subsection 12(2) of the Legislation Act 2003 does not apply to
rules made before 1 July 2020.
The Scrutiny of Bills Committee was concerned that the Explanatory Memorandum
did not explain why such a provision needed to be overridden when making
The Scrutiny of Bills Committee pointed out that there is no maximum
charge or method to calculate a maximum charge in the Charges Bills. Accordingly,
the committee requested advice from the Minister about why no limits had been
imposed on the charges.
Assistant Minister's response
The Assistant Minister provided a response to the Scrutiny of Bills
Committee in relation to each Bill on 28 June 2017.
Conduct of the inquiry
The Bills were introduced to the House of Representatives on 1 June
2017. Under the Senate's resolution of 10 May 2017, the committee was
required to report to the Senate on 13 June 2017; however, the Senate
approved two extensions of time for the committee to report on the Bills, first
to 19 June 2017 and then to 8 August 2017.
The committee advertised the inquiry on its website and wrote to
relevant individuals and organisations inviting submissions by 12 June 2017. A
list of submissions to the inquiry can be found at Appendix 1.
The committee held a half-day public hearing on the Bills on
26 July 2017. A list of witnesses who gave evidence to the committee can
be found at Appendix 2.
The committee thanks those submitters who contributed to the inquiry.
Notes on references
In this report, references to Committee Hansard are to proof transcripts. Page numbers may
vary between proof and official transcripts.
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