While not opposing the Committee's recommendation that the Bills be
passed, Labor Senators remain concerned about some aspects of the Industrial
Chemicals Bill and believe these concerns should be addressed with several
amendments, as noted in the following comments.
Labor Senators note with concern the lack of detail in these Bills and
in the Explanatory Memorandum, with most of the detail being left to rules or
The Government is once again asking the Parliament to pass the Bills and
trust it on the implementation.
Although the Department of Health (Department) has explained its
reasoning for significant parts of the scheme to be provided for in rules,
Labor Senators reserve their right to closely scrutinise the regulations and to
disallow any which do not adequately ensure health and environmental
protections are not diminished.
1.5 Many stakeholders had concerns about the introduction
of industrial chemicals without notification to the regulator through the 'Exempted
Introduction' category, particularly as there would be no tracking of these
1.6 Whilst this category is for 'very low risk'
chemicals, the potential exists that a chemical presently considered safe could
be found, perhaps many years later, to be hazardous.
1.7 The Department's explanation that the introducer will
need to notify the regulator that they have introduced chemicals in this
category does not allay these concerns because the details about which
chemicals were introduced under that category are not provided to the
1.8 When asked about how it would deal with a situation
where, for whatever reason, this detail was inaccurate or not kept by industry,
the Department referred to the record keeping requirements and penalties for
failure to do so. As such, the response did not alleviate concerns about the
difficulty in tracking potential exposures if these records are not able to be
obtained from the introducer.
1.9 The Department also said that:
...our analysis shows that there would be more chemicals
coming in the reported category, where people have to tell us before they
introduce, as opposed to that exempted category, where there is no interaction
with the regulator.
1.10 If that is the case and as industry would be required
to keep records of the introductions, then Labor Senators believe that it would
not be onerous on an introducer using the 'exempted introduction' category if
they are required to provide an annual report to the regulator listing the
name, volume and date of introduction of the industrial chemical.
1.11 This approach would preserve the principle of a
register of industrial chemicals, provide greater transparency and should new
information about the nature of a chemical come to light, make tracking
exposures far easier.
Continuation of IMAP
1.12 The IMAP process received praise from many
stakeholders. The Department's assurance to the committee that the IMAP process
or something similar will continue and indeed be strengthened is helpful.
1.13 Nonetheless, the lack of detail in the Bill and the
Explanatory Memorandum on this and other matters, Labor Senators would be
further reassured if this commitment was included in the primary Bill.
Animal test data ban
1.14 Labor has a strong track record on animal testing,
having introduced a private member's bill to Parliament in February 2016 to ban
animal testing for cosmetics in Australia, and also ban the manufacture and
importation into Australia of cosmetics that have been tested on animals
elsewhere. While this Bill responds to pressure from Labor and advocates on
this issue, concerns have been raised.
1.15 The animal welfare sector raised concerns that the
ban on the use of animal test data for cosmetics has been drafted to be very
narrow and that it contains a loophole which would allow animal test data to be
used in industrial chemicals introduced for multi end use.
1.16 Labor Senators believe that an amendment to
introduce a two track system, as suggested in Be Cruelty-Free's submission,
will be more comprehensive than the legislation as currently drafted.
1.17 As the Government agrees in principle with banning
the use of animal test data in cosmetics, and the Department's own submission
suggests that there are few cases where its ban would not apply, the proposed
two track approach would seem unlikely to create a significant regulatory
burden whilst providing much more confidence in the system.
Reliance on Risk Managers
1.18 In its submission the AMWU noted that:
If risk managers had acted on NICNAS recommendations
significant operational problems with the exposures to fire fighting foams
would have been avoided
1.19 Labor Senators believe that better
information on the uptake of the regulator's recommendations will better inform
policy decisions and therefore call for the legislation to be amended to
require the regulator to obtain and make publically available, an annual report
on the outcome of recommendations flowing from assessments.
Senator the Hon Lisa Singh Senator Murray Watt
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