The Australian Greens have called on the ALP to stand behind newly implemented reforms to the APVMA, which radically improve the reassessment process for a range of highly toxic chemicals and pesticides.
"As a result of work done in the last Parliament, the APVMA gained the power to review and quickly remove highly hazardous and unmanageable pesticides from the market if they fail to meet today's scientific and regulatory standards, but Tony Abbott's Government are now working to unwind these important reforms," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.
"A recent Senate Inquiry into the Government's bill to repeal these powers saw the ALP back the recommendation that they be scrapped, which is concerning given the fact they were brought in under the former Labor Government.
"It would be very disappointing to see the ALP stand aside when this Bill comes to the Senate while Tony Abbott and his big business mates in the chemicals industry trash the majority of the changes that they fought to deliver.
"The improved regime allows us to quickly and efficiently reassess chemicals that unmanageable risks. It takes into account the significant developments in toxicology since the older APVMA system was put in place.
"Letting chemical and pesticide regulation fall back into the inadequate, ad hoc system of the past would be very disappointing. A number of chemicals in Australia today have been taken out of use in other countries because the risks are simply too high to manage. The old system saw many chemicals put on the approved list without ever being properly assessed, and reassessments by the APVMA are ad-hoc and are taking upwards of a decade to deliver.
"It is vital that our regulator is responding quickly to new information, including the benchmarks being set internationally - sadly this is not currently the case. Ad-hoc reassessment regimes only create a great deal of uncertainty for industry as well as putting our communities at risk.
"Strong, systemic re-assessment standards actually provide transparency for the industries that rely on chemicals, while also ensuring that we move away from using those with the highest levels of unmanageable risk.
"Several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars went in to developing re-registration as an effective new approach for the APVMA. After all of that, the ALP should not walk away from these important reforms. They must be protected," Senator Siewert concluded.