Input to government and other bodies

In its final report, the Government-appointed Taskforce on Reducing the Regulatory Burden on Business identified chemicals and plastics regulation as a priority area for review. It noted, for example, the volume and complexity of existing chemicals and plastics regulation in Australia, duplication, inadequate recognition of international standards and approval processes and over-proscriptive regulation.

In response, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) established a high-level taskforce to develop an integrated, national chemicals policy and an independent public review of regulation in the industry.

It also requested the Productivity Commission to undertake a review of the industry.

NICNAS provided two submissions to this review, the fi rst responding to an issues paper circulated by the Commission, the second to its draft Research Report. The Productivity Commissions final report is expected early in 2008-09.

COAG also established a Ministerial Taskforce on Chemicals and Plastics Regulation Reform with each government jurisdiction nominating one responsible Minister. Its objective is to develop measures to achieve a streamlined and harmonised system of national chemicals and plastics regulation.

A Senior Officials Working Group comprising representatives of relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies supports it.

The COAG task force has identified a pressing need for reform within the industry and flagged the governments intent to act decisively in achieving immediate improvements to the chemicals regulatory system, a so-called early harvest.

NICNAS is progressing implementation of each of four early harvest reforms which are relevant to it, and will report progress to COAG.

NICNAS provided technical input to the Environment Protection and Heritage Councils chemicals working group and to the national strategy to prevent the diversion of precursor chemicals into illicit drug manufacture.

It also advised the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on counter terrorism activities and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on the safety of the particular consumer products.

NICNAS also continued to provide technical advice to Australias delegations to conferences of Parties of the Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions.

NICNAS is also represented on inter-departmental committees such as the Chemicals Clearing House and that providing advice to the National Nanotechnology Taskforce established under the National Nanotechnology Strategy.

Expert advice

NICNAS provided submissions to a number of government agencies on consumer chemicals, the hazard classification of nickel carbonate and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

Details can be found in the Existing Chemicals chapter under Assessment services for other Government bodies.

Parliamentary support

Required response times for advice were met. All advice provided was rated as satisfactory by the Parliamentary Secretary.