Implementing Industrial Chemicals Reforms through the new Australian Industrial Chemical Introduction Scheme

On 26 May 2015, the Australian Government announced its decision to implement a range of reforms to the regulation of industrial chemicals. These reforms seek to streamline the assessment process for industrial chemicals to reduce the regulatory burden on the sector, while also ensuring Australia’s robust safety standards are maintained.

Page last updated: 10 April 2018

The reforms to the regulation of industrial chemicals in Australia will be achieved through the new Australian Industrial Chemical Introduction Scheme (AICIS) which replaces the current National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS). The new scheme will make regulatory effort more proportionate to risk, promote safer innovation by encouraging the introduction of lower risk chemicals and will continue to protect the Australian people and the environment from any harmful effects of industrial chemicals.

The bills that provide the new regulatory framework are currently before parliament.

Further information on the reforms is available from NICNAS Reforms.

Implementation of the reforms to the regulation of industrial chemicals

Legislation introducing reforms to the industrial chemicals regulatory framework were passed unamended through the House of Representatives on 17 October 2017 and is currently before the Senate. It was previously proposed that AICIS would come into effect on 1 July 2018. To assist regulated entities to adequately prepare for compliance with this new scheme, the Australian Government has decided to defer commencement of the scheme until 1 July 2019.

Following this decision and the passage of primary legislation through the House of Representatives, stakeholders are now invited to participate in further consultation to develop the supporting delegated legislation. Consultation on the draft Rules and Categorisation Guidelines is open until 31 May 2018.

Further information on the detail of the reforms along with timing of specific reform implementation is available from NICNAS Reforms

Background

NICNAS is a statutory scheme within the portfolio of the Minister for Health, with responsibility delegated to the Assistant Minister for Health. The Director of NICNAS is a statutory office holder with specific functions under the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (the Act), including the scientific assessment of chemical risks to public health, occupational health and safety and the environment. NICNAS also has some responsibilities for recommending the control of risks in relation to new and existing chemicals.

A review of NICNAS, initially progressed as a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership between the Minister for Finance and Deregulation and the Minister for Health, was undertaken to evaluate and make recommendations on the regulatory settings for the notification, assessment and regulation of industrial chemicals, noting that any proposed changes to the regulatory arrangements for industrial chemicals should not weaken human health and environmental protection. The review considered:

  • the role and functions of NICNAS as set out in the Act and the extent to which they adequately reflect stakeholder expectations and international best practice, having regard to the broader context of chemicals regulation in Australia
  • the governance and consultation arrangements of NICNAS and the extent to which they support the effective delivery of NICNAS' functions
  • the efficiency and effectiveness of NICNAS' operating arrangements and business processes, with particular regard to the protection of human and environmental health, the management of risk, and compliance costs for business, and
  • any implications for the resourcing of functions currently cost recovered, should the review recommend changed responsibilities.

In considering the options for reform, the Australian Government had regard to:

The final Regulation Impact Statement associated with the reforms for NICNAS is available from the Office of Best Practice Regulation.