In addition to its usual provision of services and advice to industry, the community and government, NICNAS in this reporting period has concentrated heavily on reforms that will enhance its performance.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Ministerial Task Force on Chemicals and Plastics Regulation Reform met for the first time in April 2008.

Arising from its work, NICNAS has carriage of four what are described as early harvest reforms.

These are:

" finalising the last of low regulatory concern chemicals (LRCC) reforms that utilise low risk/low hazard criteria and modular assessments

" evaluating the effectiveness of the LRCC reforms that have been implemented since 2004

" progressing elements of next stage in recognition of Canadian new chemicals regulations as an approved foreign scheme, and

" progressing reforms for regulating hard surface disinfectants for hospital, industrial and domestic use.

Progress reports on implementing these reforms are expected to be forwarded to COAG later in 2008.

NICNAS also referred two recommendations arising from the Review of the NICNAS Existing Chemicals Program to the same COAG Ministerial Task Force.

NICNAS also contributed to the work on the Productivity Commission study on Chemicals and Plastics regulation, which is expected to be released in early 2008-09.

These recommendations were:

1. the proposal to investigate the barriers to effective implementation of NICNASs recommendations in a streamlined and harmonised manner and the effectiveness of co-regulatory and voluntary industry compliance programs, and

2. the range of issues raised in relation to the suggestion for NICNAS to be able to ban, severely restrict, and/or control certain chemicals.

NICNAS also established closer links to Canadian and United States agencies that have similar capabilities and interests. This has been with a view to accessing each others knowledge, experience and expertise to reduce duplication, improve timeliness and cut costs.

Similarly, links to chemicals technical groups, such as those under the umbrella of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have been strengthened to deliver the same results, along with greater scientific and technical rigour.

Details of these initiatives can be found in the chapter, Multinational and bilateral cooperation and harmonisation.

Reform to regulation of cosmetics in Australia was permitted by changes during the year to the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989.

This allowed the introduction of a new Australian Cosmetics Standard that sets requirements for certain cosmetic product categories formerly regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

In its preparations for introduction of the reforms, NICNAS committed to seamless regulation of cosmetics by the involved agencies (NICNAS, the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).

Equally, it concentrated on providing the cosmetics industry with extensive information and training on the new requirements.

During the year work was completed, progressed, or planned in projects associated with the reforms of NICNASs Existing Chemicals program.

Finally, NICNAS is continuing to address the potential challenges posed to the regulatory framework by the application of nanotechnology to industrial nanomaterials.

It is working closely with Australian and international organisations with the objective of putting in place regulatory frameworks that will consistently manage the potential risks of nanotechnology.