Senate debates

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Bills

Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment (Removing Re-approval and Re-registration) Bill 2014; Second Reading

11:42 am

Photo of Christopher BackChristopher Back (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to support very strongly the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment (Removing Re-approval and Re-registration) Bill 2014. There are a couple of points I need to make. Firstly, nearly the entire costs of the APVMA are borne by industry, not just the costs associated with the regulation and approval of licences et cetera, but pretty well all of the costs associated with the agency are allocated to industry—better than 90 per cent. So anything at all that reduces costs to industry, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the APVMA and the role they undertake, must surely be in the interests of all parties, including those of us here in the Senate. This is what the bill is aiming to do.

The other point that is important to make is that during the Senate's inquiry into this matter there was evidence to the effect that there are chemicals still in use here in Australia that have long been banned in other countries—European countries, the United States of America, South Africa, New Zealand et cetera. I want very clearly to put the record straight. That is not the case. Many of these chemicals are in fact not banned and they are not unsafe. The circumstance simply is that there are veterinary and agricultural chemicals used for pesticides, disease control et cetera that actually do not need to have a use for several years. In the case of animal or plant diseases, there might be seasonal conditions, for example, that remove the need for the use of that chemical over a number of years. But the chemical sits there and is still useful and still needs to be available to agriculture—to farmers, producers and pastoralists—in the event that climatic, seasonal or whatever other conditions pertain that require their use.

This legislation was going to call for regulator reapproval and re-registration of a lot of these chemicals, placing the manufacturers and the distributors of those chemicals into a circumstance of having to ask if it was in their commercial interest to go through the process of having to apply for reapproval and re-registration, when indeed the chemical may not be needed. That is the circumstance that has happened in Europe and in other places. Those manufacturers and those who distribute these chemicals have just simply taken a commercial decision of saying, 'We cannot justify on commercial grounds the continued registration and re-registration, therefore they have been allowed to lapse.' That is a huge difference from a chemical being unsafe.

In the interests of time, I will not go through other points that are entirely relevant, except to say that industry generally wants to see an APVMA which is credible, ethical, devoted towards the interests of industry and devoted towards the interests of human, animal and related health and environmental safety and security issues. We want to see all of those, but we do not want to see an APVMA tied up in red tape, unnecessary regulation and unnecessary costs.

I come back, again, to the fact that the industry pays pretty well all of the costs of APVMA. For that reason, I urge my colleagues here in the Senate to endorse, approve and pass these amendments so that, once again, we can have a circumstance in which all players are engaged happily, ethically, professionally and safely in the interests of Australian industry, environment and community.

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