ACCORD Australia

Public submissions to the review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme.

Page last updated: 17 April 2012

PDF printable version of Accord Australia submission (PDF 38 KB)

Department of Health and Ageing
MDP 88
GPO Box 9848


Dear Sirs

Accord Australasia is pleased to provide the following submission in response to the Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership Review of NICNAS (BRMP Review).

Accord Australasia is the peak national industry association representing the manufacturers and marketers of formulated consumer, cosmetic, hygiene and specialty products, their raw material suppliers, and service providers. Accord Members market fast-moving consumer and commercial goods primarily in Australia and New Zealand.

The formulated hygiene, cosmetic and specialty products industry is a significant industry sector contributing to a prosperous Australian economy. Our industry’s products include household and commercial cleaning agents; disinfectants; make-up and beauty products; toiletries and personal care products; hair-care products; skincare products, including sunscreens; oral hygiene; fragrances and perfumes, feminine hygiene products; industrial and agricultural sanitisers; household pest control; and adhesives and sealants.

Sector products play a vital role in:
  • Safeguarding public health: Maintaining essential standards of hygiene and sanitation in institutions, hospitality, manufacturing and agriculture.
  • Promoting personal well-being: Helping people keep clean, healthy and shielded from harmful effects of the environment.
  • Maintaining comfortable homes: Enabling people to keep their everyday surroundings clean and inviting.
  • Enhancing quality of life: Giving people greater personal freedom through time- and effort-saving technologies.
  • Boosting confidence and emotional wellbeing: Providing opportunities for self-expression, individuality and pampering.
  • Keeping the wheels of commerce and industry turning: Fulfilling specialised uses in industry, institutions and agriculture.
Accord has around 94 member companies which range from smaller Australian-owned family businesses to the local operations of large consumer brand multinationals. A full list of Accord member companies is provided at Attachment 1.

Headline features and statistics for our industry’s economic footprint include:
  • Estimated annual retail-level sales of industry products nudging the $10 billion mark.
  • Accord member companies directly contribute more than 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
  • Nationally more than 170 offices and more than 50 manufacturing sites are operated by Accord member companies.

ACCORD Australasia Limited (formerly ACSPA) ACN 117 659 168 ABN 83 205 141 267
PO Box 290 BROADWAY NSW 2007
Tel: 61 2 9281 2322 Fax: 61 2 9281 0366 or Accord Website
Innovative solutions for healthy living and a quality lifestyle

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Our sector is highly regulated with an internal Accord survey of members showing that:
  • 97 percent have dealings with the National Industrial Chemicals Notification & Assessment
  • Scheme (NICNAS)
  • 77 percent with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
  • 58 percent with the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS),
  • 39 percent with the Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA); and
  • 33 percent with Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
In essence there are three distinct product segments for our industry, each with distinct supply chains through to the product end user:
  • Industrial and Institutional products (e.g. commercial cleaning products, agricultural sanitisers) which are mainly sold on a business-to-business or business-to-government basis or through agricultural product resellers.
  • Fast-moving consumer goods (e.g. household cleaners, laundry detergents, toothpaste, shampoo, soap) which are sold to consumers primarily via either: grocery retailers, pharmacies, mass-market retailers, direct selling and hardware chains.
  • Cosmetic and beauty industry products (e.g. make-up, skincare, sunscreens, fragrances, hair dyes) which are sold to consumers primarily via either: department stores, specialty retailers, grocery retailers, pharmacies, mass-market retailers, direct selling, hair salons, beauty salons, spas and on-line.
Our industry’s single biggest problem remains Australia’s costly, complex and fragmented regulatory system for the management of chemicals across jurisdictions. The regulation of chemicals and plastics has long been the subject of concern. Particular issues raised are the duplication, complexity and fragmentation of regulatory responsibility.

The Productivity Commission’s (PC) Research Report on Chemicals and Plastics Regulation (July 2008) made 30 recommendations for reform including a new governance framework to achieve better coordination of chemicals and plastics regulation. In November 2008, COAG provided an interim response to the PC’s recommendations welcoming the Commonwealth’s approach to the recommendations and agreed to the new governance framework to oversee the reform process.

Accord has made known our continued frustration and extreme disappointment with the lack of tangible outcomes on this important reform initiative for our sector, particularly in relation to the Department of Health and Ageing’s (DoHA) lack of visible progress.

We therefore welcome the BRMP Review. The efficiency and effectiveness of NICNAS’ operations continue to fall below industry’s expectations. We believe that the Government’s decision to conduct a BRMP Review validates industry’s concerns.

The Productivity Commission's (PC) research report provided a road map for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the chemicals and plastics industry. The road map was developed through a negotiated outcome which included all stakeholders: government, the community and industry.

It is disappointing that much resistance to implementation of the PC recommendations appears to be coming from some key departments and agencies. Accord has written on numerous occasions to various government agencies seeking their support to implement the PC recommendations as a suite of reforms. In particular the lack of progress by DoHA is extremely disappointing as it has a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the reform process with the implementation of Recommendation 4.3 which changes the nature of NICNAS and introduces new structural arrangements for the risk assessment and risk management of chemicals in Australia. Top of Page

Disappointingly, the only recommendation to have made any progress for which DoHA has responsibility is 4.6 with regard to the existing chemicals review – the one with the most significant potential impost on industry.

Industry is yet to see the detail of the Government decision to proceed with this recommendation. We are surprised that such a decision can be made prior to the finalisation of the BRMP Review and an assessment of the cost recovery impact statement which has recently been undertaken to consider options for funding. The COAG Interim Response to this recommendation was provided in 2008 and to date we have not been aware of any further consideration of this particular recommendation by the Business Regulation and Competition Working Group (BRCWG) or COAG. A decision to proceed with staged implementation of this recommendation appears to have been made in the absence of any pre-conditions regarding funding as COAG advised in its interim response being met.

We continue to believe that the PC, in its assessment of reforms to the management of industrial chemicals in Australia, got it right.

In the call for submissions to the BRMP Review, advice is being sought on four particular issues such as the role of NICNAS; its governance arrangements; stakeholder consultations; and constraints on transferring risk manage functions to alternate agencies.

We believe that the PC study more than adequately addressed each of these issues in its report.

Given the time which has elapsed from that of the original recommendations i.e. July 2008 to the BRMP Review, some three and half years later, we are now provided with an opportunity to further build on the PC’s original recommendations since neither NICNAS nor DoHA has responded to the agreed need for reform. Indeed, the concerns raised with the PC in 2008 about NICNAS’ performance and operational efficiency remain and are, if anything, of greater concern now - such has been the deterioration in NICNAS’ operational performance and failure to respond to unnecessary regulation, with further regulatory burden being added by very poor administrative decisions.

The BRMP Review provides an opportunity for a paradigm shift in the regulation of industrial chemicals in Australia building on the PC’s recommendation 4.3 to limit NICNAS’ role to that of a scientific assessment body. We believe that a new regulatory framework more closely aligned with intentional requirements is required, particularly in relation to the treatment of new industrial chemicals.

Features of this new framework would include:
  • Risk management through risk prioritisation of industrial chemicals with a focus on hazardous chemicals - risk management decisions would be made by three independent expert bodies in the areas of OHS, public health and the environment.
  • Harmonising the regulatory treatment of new industrial chemicals with that of other advanced economies to improve Australia’s competitiveness and innovation.
  • Removing cosmetic products and ingredients from the scope of industrial chemicals regulation and harmonising their treatment with that of the EU, ASEAN economies and New Zealand.
  • Lowering the costs of regulation through notification only of certain low risk categories such as polymers, non hazardous new chemicals and recognition of chemicals on international inventories.
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Streamlining the management of chemicals in Australia will refocus the regulator at the high end of the risk spectrum as well as reduce unnecessary costs on industry and facilitate a more innovative and competitive chemical manufacturing sector for Australia without undermining public health and safety.

The current arrangements are a drag on the economy and NICNAS processes only get in the way of good commercial practices.

We provide to the NICNAS Review Team a number of submissions made to previous enquiries as background information to Accord member concerns with NICNAS’ performance and suggestions for improvement.

Accord will also provide to the NICNAS Review Team additional detail to expand each of the four elements referenced above and how the proposed cohesive new framework for the management of chemicals could be implemented in Australia.

Should you have any questions in relation to this submission, the contact officer is Ms Dusanka Sabic, Director of Regulatory Reform who can be contacted on 02 921181 2322 or by email at dsabic.

Yours sincerely

Authorised for electronic submission

Bronwyn Capanna
Executive Director

14 December 2010

  1. Accord membership list
  2. Accord submission to NICNAS Discussion Paper on Cost Recovery (August 2010)
  3. Accord submission to the Final Report of the LRCC Reforms (August 2009)
  4. Accord submission to the Draft Report of the PC report into chemicals and plastics regulation (August 2009)
  5. Accord submission to the PC study into chemicals and plastics regulation (October 2007)
  6. Accord industry survey on impact and costs of regulation made to PC study into chemicals and plastics regulation (January 2008)

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