Coalition Senators' Dissenting Report
The Coalition Senators do not support the Agricultural and Veterinary
Chemicals Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 in its current form.
Inherent in this bill is the all too familiar layering of red tape,
bringing with it additional costs and further complicating and tangling the
workings of business and industry.
As stated by Mr Matthew Cossey, Chief Executive Officer, CropLife
In its current form, this bill will only serve to hinder
This theme was common to much of the evidence presented:
I do not think there has been an adequate cost benefit
analysis done, not a quantitative one. There are big jumps from between $2
million to $8 million that could turn into $20 million. Those costs will
come back to the farming community. We are told how lucky we are to sit here
and to be able to produce food and fibre sustainably that and our place in the
sun will be to feed the teeming millions in Asia and so forth but at the same
time we try and put every restriction on being able to compete in a global
market. I think this is another example of another shackle that could be
imposed that will stymie that competitiveness that we need to work in those
The new Bill adds over 200 new pages of legislation for the
APVMA to administer and it removes none of the existing legislation.
...the APVMA has become a barrier to the provision of low-cost
products by demanding unnecessary data or a range of common commodities... We are
being strangled by the current regulatory environment. This needs to be addressed
as a matter of urgency.
Of particular concern is the requirement for mandatory re-registration
of agricultural and veterinary chemicals. This requirement is seen as expensive
and developed without a compelling cost/benefit analysis:
In the absence of the government undertaking a clear analysis
of the costs and benefits of the proposed measures within this better
regulation process the NFF continues to hold concerns that the proposed changes
will impact on the costs of chemicals and the availability of chemicals in the
Australian market. These impacts will ultimately be felt by the agricultural
community and in the productivity and profitability of individual farm
...the proposed bill increases costs for registrants and
applicants. The APVMA’s own cost recovery discussion paper associated with the
bill already demonstrates that the proposed new registration system will cost
an extra 30 per cent. To put the effect of this increased cost in perspective,
it currently costs the same real dollar amount to register a crop protection
product in Australia as it does in the United States, but the Australian market
is one-tenth the size of the market in America.
The three tiered re-registration methodology suggested by the bill may
appear inexpensive with estimated re-registration cost of the lowest tier being
However, the Majority report concedes that tier 2 assessments 'would
require the generation of potentially expensive data and may well cause
manufacturers to consider whether to continue to seek re-registration.'
Even more concerning is evidence provided suggesting how easily
re-registration requirements could move from tier 1 to tier 2. While appearing
to present a risk based tiered approach to the re-registration process, the
potential for abuse is clear and is confirmed in the Majority report where a
departmental official indicated that re-registration considerations would
progress to the second tier if there is "the sniff of a doubt" at the
The potential for re-registration to be escalated from tier 1 based on
unfounded, ill-informed social media campaigns rather than sound evidence is
clear and has been a hall mark of the current Labor Government, particularly in
relation to primary production.
The Coalition recognises that a consequence of this amendment could be a
dramatic reduction in the availability of agricultural and veterinary
chemicals, not because use of the chemicals is proven to be unacceptably
dangerous to humans or the environment, but for economic reasons:
However, a re-registration/ re-approval program will result
in loss of products as approval holders and registrants decide not to supply
new data if the APVMA requests new data not required by other regulators.
We are seeing that in the international experience—for
example, in the EU approximately half the products ended up off the market
through the re-registration process and much of that was due to commercial
decisions made by the chemical companies not to take those products forward. In
Australia, due to it being a small market, we may even see that sort of issue
This in turn reduces the ability of Australian producers to effectively
produce the food and fibre that is essential for domestic and international
...the re-registration process is going to make it very
difficult to maintain the existing suite of minor use chemicals that our
industry relies on...
Inherent in evidence provided to the Committee was a level of
frustration with the Government response to the consultation process:
The [Animal Health Alliance] has been active over the last
years in attempting to highlight to the Government and DAFF, while drafting the
new Bill, the flaws and impediments in the proposed new processes intended to
operate to deliver this new Bill.
It would appear that the outcomes of the consultation did not
deliver the genuine improvements to the bill as proposed. There has been
movement, Senator. To give credit where credit is due, there has been movement.
But I am concerned that the focus, as publicly stated, of this initiative at
the beginning, which was all about efficiency when the government made the
announcement of the review, has not been in fact the focus of the work that has
delivered the bill before the parliament.
The point that you make is something that we have put in our
submission—that is, about the way the APVMA consults with industry and the need
for enhanced consultation with the grower bodies. That is something that we
have put down, and a number of grower bodies, through the consultation the
department has undertaken and in submissions to the two parliamentary
inquiries, have noted that there needs to be enhanced consultation.
This amendment is further evidence of the disconnect that exists between
the Labor Government, the Greens Party and the Australian farming community. It
does not recognise that the means to remove unacceptably hazardous chemicals
already exists in the current legislation.
Instead of requiring what already exists to work more effectively, the
Government’s solution is to place responsibility and cost on industry and
increase the opportunity for manipulation by minority groups.
The Amendment Bill should not be passed in its present form.
|Senator the Hon
for New South Wales
|Senator Fiona Nash
Nationals Senator for New South Wales
for Western Australia
|Senator the Hon Richard
Liberal Senator for Tasmania
for South Australia
|Senator Anne Ruston
Liberal Senator for South Australia
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