The National Registration Scheme
The National Registration Scheme for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (National Registration Scheme) was established under Commonwealth and state and territory legislation and ensures that these products are:
- safe when exposed to humans and non-target species either through direct exposure or residues in treated food stuffs
- not a risk to the environment
- effective on target species, and
- labeled and packaged correctly.
The Department of Agriculture manages the legislation under which the National Registration Scheme operates. This includes amending current legislation or introducing new Bills where Commonwealth, state and territory governments have agreed there is a need. The Minister for Agriculture has overall policy responsibility for agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals and presents these changes to Parliament.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), formerly known as the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA), sits within the Agriculture portfolio and is an independent statutory authority that administers the National Registration Scheme.
The APVMA evaluates, registers and regulates agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals up to the point of sale. The states and territories are responsible for control of use.
Chemical companies wishing to register a product are required to provide extensive data supporting the safe and environmentally friendly status of the product.
As part of the assessment process, the APVMA receives input from other Commonwealth agencies, including:
- Australian Government Department of Health
- Australian Government Department of the Environment
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)
- Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR)
Evaluations for completely new products can be lengthy and timeframes are prescribed in the legislation. Evaluations of variations to available products can be shorter. The active constituent of a product must be registered before or with registration of the product.
The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 established the National Registration Scheme and amended the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Act 1988 to transfer the powers and functions of the outgoing Australian Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Council to the then NRA, now known as the APVMA.
The other major piece of legislation is the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 (the Code Act). The Code Act details the operational provisions for the registration of products and provides the APVMA with its powers.
The National Registration Scheme legislation includes six other Acts, two dealing with registration activities and four relating to registration fees and charges. This legislation package repealed the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Act 1988 and established a new framework for the operations of the APVMA.
The department's interrelationship with the APVMA
The department's primary role is the governance and oversight of the National Registration Scheme, administered by the APVMA.
The department has primary carriage of the overall direction of Commonwealth policy for the management of agvet chemicals. It provides advice to the Minister on matters concerning the regulation of agvet chemicals that are of interest and or concern to the Minister and the strategic aspects of chemical management in Australia and its implications for agvet chemicals industries.
The agreement among the Commonwealth and the states and territories establishing the NRS requires the department to consult with all parties to the agreement on changes to agvet chemicals legislation.
The department consults with the states and territories on any policy issues relating to the National Registration Scheme. It consults with other Commonwealth departments and agencies on policy issues as required.
At the international level, the APVMA participates in meetings regarding the assessment and registration of agvet chemicals, in consultation with portfolio departments.