Australian Greens Dissenting Report
Evidence presented in submissions to both this inquiry and others
relating to the APVMA have demonstrated that due to the relocation to Armidale,
the APVMA has lost capacity and is unable to meet its core functioning.
However, the Greens do not believe that this loss of functioning should
be rectified by relying on third party assessments.
The potential conflict of interest that will be created by registrants
being able to select their own third party providers to conduct assessments is
galling. The CPSU sums this up well:
Chemical companies invest significant resources in product
development and delays in regulatory approval can carry significant costs. It
is foreseeable that they may prioritise their financial interests ahead of the public
interest. Independent assessors would also have a financial interest in attracting
and retaining assessment work. This increases the risk of decisions being
influenced by financial concerns or pressures.
While accreditation may provide some degree of restraint, the Bill would
delegate the specifics of the accreditation of third party assessors to the
APVMA itself, without parliamentary oversight.
Collectively these changes not only risk exacerbating the existing
perceptions of a lack of independence and good process within the APVMA, but
could be interpreted as the privatisation of our chemical assessment regime.
It is hard to interpret this shift to needing outside support from third
parties as anything other than an admission that the relocation strategy has
Other measures contained in the Bill are equally problematic. Multiple
submitters raised concerns with the intent to streamline assessment of 'prescribed
applications', pointing to the lack of clarity in the Bill around how the APVMA
will identify risk and what the appropriate thresholds for determining 'low' or
'medium' risk would be.
Further concerns were raised about the Bill's changes to the limitation
and protection periods for private information, which would further erode the
public's access to timely information and could negatively impact input costs
Given the ongoing crisis in the legitimacy and perceptions of
independence of the APVMA, a Bill which reduces regulatory oversight, reduces
public oversight and outsources the core functioning of the body is a Bill that
is going in the entirely wrong direction.
While the Greens acknowledge the problems created for the APVMA by the
relocation, alternative solutions to 'streamlining regulation' must be found if
the APVMA is to maintain public confidence.
The Australian Greens recommend that the Bill be opposed.
Senator Janet Rice
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