Wednesday, 25 June 2014
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Legislation Amendment (Removing Re-approval and Re-registration) Bill 2014; Second Reading
Yes, it is. I just didn't want to get the wrong senator from the Australian Greens. I understand that the ALP have previously supported these measures but are now backing away from them. It would be good to get an explanation from the Australian Labor Party as to why they are backing away from measures which appear to be quite sensible and measured and which deal with these risks.
I do have concerns about the opposition second reading amendment, however. A call for the establishment of a 'systematic process of assessment within the APVMA for existing agriculture and veterinary chemicals' that is similar to the NICNAS scheme is worrying, because it prompts the question: why don't we have one already? If all the ALP is trying to do is do a feel-good second reading amendment that actually does not do any good because it does not require any really changes in relation to that, then why bother? It is a bit of a con on farmers, on the electorate and on the broader community that is concerned about this issue. Perhaps this might have been more useful if it had been establish during the former government's overhaul of the APVMA in 2010.
Successive governments have failed to close the loopholes in Australia's agvet chemicals regulatory system. I acknowledge the government's aim in terms of reducing red tape and, in general, I support that aim if the red tape is there for no good purpose. But if we are talking about a regulatory framework in respect of pesticides and chemicals that is about protecting our farmers, that will prevent colony collapse disorder and that will prevent the sorts of international concerns as outlined by the BBC just yesterday on the widespread impact of neonicotinoids, then we should do something about it because, if I can say colloquially: if we stuff up our bee population then Australian agriculture is stuffed because of the impact of pollination. We need to be very careful about this. We cannot forget that sometimes red tape is not just red tape; sometimes it is the steel barrier at the top of a cliff.