Chemicals and Plastics Regulation

Commissioned study

This study has concluded. The research report was released on the 7 August 2008.

The Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a study into chemicals and plastics regulation in Australia. In summary, the key tasks the Commission had been asked to undertake are to:

  1. assess Australia's current system of chemicals and plastics regulation, including its effectiveness in achieving public health, occupational health and safety, and environmental outcomes, and its impacts on productivity, competitiveness and efficiency;
  2. recommend reforms to the current system of regulation, including options to enhance national uniformity and consistency, streamline data requirements and assessment processes, and use alternatives to regulation.

In doing so the Commission had been asked to:

  • investigate the degree to which Australian regulations diverge from overseas standards
  • examine the existing regulatory arrangements for security sensitive ammonium nitrate
  • examine the interrelationships between the different tiers of government in Australia - Australian, state and territory and local - and identify any inconsistencies and duplication
  • make recommendations for reforms to regulations and regulatory arrangements to enhance national uniformity and consistency, streamline data requirements and assessment processes
  • consider alternatives to regulation.

Government response

At its meeting on 29 November 2008 COAG agreed to a new governance structure to oversee chemicals and plastics regulatory reform in response to the Commission's report, including the establishment of a COAG Standing Committee on Chemicals.

At the same meeting COAG also agreed to a proposed interim COAG response to the report's recommendations.

COAG also welcomed progress on implementing the 18 early harvest reforms which endorse elements of the reform blueprint proposed by the Commission, and requested a further progress report for consideration at the first COAG meeting in 2009.

Further information