The year 2005-06 has seen an ongoing focus by governments and others on an agenda of regulation reform. In addition to the recognition of the need to implement best practice, the growing importance of good regulatory processes has emerged. As part of the COAGs new commitments to reform, the regulation of the chemicals and plastic sector has been identified as one of six hot spots for reform.

NICNAS has a strong track record of developing innovative reforms to its regulatory framework, which has seen the development and implementation over the past two years of the concept of Low Regulatory Concern Chemicals (LRCC) and other streamlining activities aimed at reducing administrative costs and reducing duplication. These reform activities also included a balanced package of actions aimed at simplifying the regulation itself, thus reducing compliance costs to industry whilst enhancing the availability, and utility, of chemical safety information to all stakeholders.

The success of these recent regulatory reform activities is due, in large part, to the processes developed to undertake the activity. For example, the regulation reform program of the recent Chemicals and Plastics Action Agenda provided a major stimulus for government-industry-community partnerships in identifying regulatory issues and finding innovative solutions agreeable to all parties. This process established the need for the regulator and its stakeholders to be open to new concepts and approaches to achieve sound health, safety and environmental regulations. The value in such an approach is that it may trigger shifts in regulatory processes driven by continuous improvement and innovation.

It is pleasing that industry have publicly acknowledged the professionalism and commitment of NICNAS in introducing LRCC reform and other streamlining reform initiatives. This year NICNAS introduced a further seven elements of the LRCC reform package and worked on the finalisation of the remaining 13 technical elements which will be implementation in early 2006-07. One highlight has been the development of online-IT solutions to streamline industry compliance with annual reporting requirements for chemicals subject to exemptions, certificates and/or permits.

Building on the success of reform initiatives of the past few years, NICNAS has again undertaken a major program of reform activity in 2005-06. A key theme has been the reduction of regulatory complexity so as to enhance compliance at lower cost to industry and NICNAS alike.